Sauber rookie Esteban Gutierrez admits it was surreal to rub shoulders with the likes of Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel in Melbourne, but says he wasn't too star-struck.
The 21-year-old Mexican made his Formula One debut at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix and finished 13th after starting 18th on the grid. He improved in Malaysia where he qualified four places higher and crossed the finish line in 12th.
Gutierrez says his experience in F1 so far has been unbelievable and has already learned a lot in terms of strategy and setting up the car.
"The experience of my first grand prix was better than I had expected in my wildest dreams," he told the official Formula One website. "As a Formula One driver you can focus on many things around the car - not only the driving but also the strategy and a very complex set-up on the car. You have lots of options on the car and that is very interesting from a driver's point of view.
"You learn a lot on your first weekend. I wouldn't say that your life has been taken over - with the schedule your team puts in place for you, your life is a bit easier than in other series - but, of course, it is busier."
Moving from GP2 to Formula One means he is now on the same grid as triple World Champion Vettel from Red Bull and Ferrari's Alonso, but Gutierrez knows he can't afford to lose focus of the bigger picture.
"I tried to be very natural on my first drivers' parade, even though I was rubbing shoulders with the likes of Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel," he added. "If it distracts you, that can't be positive - in the end you want to beat those guys one day! So I tried to make it feel natural, as it will be my environment from now on. I wasn't nervous at all, but at the same time, being there was a personal achievement.
"When I was sat on the grid in Melbourne I was just living the moment. I was trying to keep my emotions very stable and simply not getting carried away. To be honest the emotions came after the race. I sat down thinking 'Wow, now I can say that I have finished my first Formula One race'. It's something that I'd worked so hard to achieve.
"I think it is important to consider that it was my first race - so it was important to live the whole experience in a very focused way in order to extract the maximum amount of information for the future. One of the things that keeps me very motivated and gives me confidence is that it is easier to fix a small mistake - like I did in qualifying - than it would be to fix the fact of not being quick enough. So I took a lot positives from my 'first day' and the focus is clearly on moving forward."
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