Sauber claim young Mexican Esteban Gutierrez can be more than a match for team-mate Nico Hulkenberg despite a difficult first season in the sport.
The rookie has been outshone by his highly rated German team-mate in 2013 though in recent practice sessions Gutierrez has been showing signs of better speed before failing to convert that promise in qualifying.
"We have been very impressed with Esteban and so has Nico," the head of trackside engineering Tom McCullough told Autosport. "Sometimes it looks as if Nico beats him easily looking at the qualifying statistics, but it isn't.
"He works hard and is seeing the rewards now after the start of the year was difficult for him with a car not as competitive as we wanted it to be.
"That makes it harder for a rookie because you are the one getting knocked out in Q1 but he's going to start pushing Nico and he is going to start outqualifying him because he is that close."
Sauber's team boss Monisha Kaltenborn is also happy with the Mexican's performances and believes with greater experience the results will improve heading into the final races of the season.
"He has had a tough start and you shouldn't forget if you compare him to other drivers in a similar situation that he has not had the most competitive car," said Kaltenborn.
"What most don't see is that he does very good preparation and set-up work and very often that is not reflected in his results. But he is on the right way there."It's mainly about experience to get it all together."
Overall the jury is still out on how much promise Esteban Gutierrez has, as mentioned he has been on the same pace as Hulkenberg in recent practice sessions but with the greater experience the German has, Nico has been able to find that extra speed in qualifying.
The last race at Monza is the best case in point in practice the times between the two were nearly identical but in qualifying on fresh tyres Gutierrez was only able to find an extra tenth and as a result was knocked out in Q1.
As for Hulkenberg he continued to find more speed and ultimately claimed third on the grid which related to a fifth place finish on Sunday.
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