The football and motor racing world came together in Singapore as Sauber F1 team driver Esteban Guttierez hosted 48 children at Henderson Secondary School for a car racing competition as well as a casual kickabout session in the school field.
The event, called “Dribble and Race”, began with a balsa wood car building and racing competition, followed by a football clinic conducted by Chelsea FC Soccer School coaches and staff.
The students were also competing to win a behind-the-scenes Sauber garage tour this Saturday (21 Sep), with points awarded for the performance of their cars in the race and their football skills.
Mexican-born Gutierrez, who debuted for the Sauber team this year, spoke to the youths, aged 11-14, about his experience with motor racing while he is in the country for this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix.
He joined Chelsea FC mascot, Stamford the Lion, to block shots by the youths from the Chelsea FC Soccer School and Henderson Secondary School. The 22-year-old was candid about his abilities on the field, admitting early on that “I wasn’t very good at football” in a session with the students, earlier in the day.
Also see: Esteban Guttierez gallery
At the session, he also stressed the roles of education and family in his ascent to becoming an F1 driver.
Having started with karting at the age of 13, he knew from an early age that he wanted to be in Formula One.
“From the beginning I already started with people who worked in racing. I had a very good idea about what it was all about, and what my goals were from that point,” he said.
While he was still studying up until two years ago, he cited education as “one of the most important things my parents gave me”. He also emphasised its importance to the eagerly listening audience of youths, adding, “You have to be very disciplined if you want to achieve very big things”.
A student later asked if it was hot in an F1 car. He was quick to point out the challenges of the Singapore race. “It’s very humid. When it’s very humid, there’s less oxygen. It’s harder to breathe, especially for us when we’re not used to it,” he said.
He also acknowledged the Singapore Gand Prix as the “track that has the most corners on the calendar”. Even with all the challenges, he remained positive, “You prepare yourself in the best way. It’s a very enjoyable event, one of my favourites”.
2013 Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix | Date: 20-22 September 2013 | Venue: Marina Bay Street Circuit | Tickets: $48 to $1,288 from www.singaporegp.sg