Esteban Gutierrez Gets Bourdais's IndyCar Seat For Detroit Races

The former Formula One driver will fill-in for Sebastien Bourdais, for now.

Formula-E Championship 2017 - Mexico City
Handout—Formula E via Getty Images

Esteban Gutierrez will fill-in for the injured Sebasitien Bourdais at Dale Coyne Racing. The announcement came Thursday afternoon. On Friday morning, Gutierrez was on track in his new IndyCar ride practicing for the double-header race in Detroit this weekend. 

Curiously, the official announcement referred to him as Bourdais replacement for "this weekend" several times, with no mention of whether or not he'll be kept on for the rest of the season. Gutierrez has never raced on an oval track, which is what's up next for IndyCar a week after Detroit. June 9-10 will see the series running at the Texas Motor Speedway. 

Unlike all the practice days Fernando Alonso had leading up to the Indy 500, there is only one practice session before qualifying for IndyCar at the Texas Motor Speedway. Even with the second practice after qualifying, that is not a lot of track time for Gutierrez to learn the nuances of oval racing. The Texas track is a mile shorter, with a higher degree of banking that at Indianapolis, One practice before qualifying is a steep learning curve for Gutierrez, no pun intended. 

At the Indy 500, James Davison sat-in for Bourdais and did an excellent job until he was bumped and crashed out. If Dale Coyne Racing is going to alternate drivers between road and oval courses, Davison has already proved his worth to the team. But with other factors at play, like availability and sponsor money, we'll see how this all plays out.

One other factor is Bourdais. He has said that if he gets cleared by his doctors, he'd like to race in the season finale at Sonoma in September. We'll be keeping an eye on that, as well.  

For now, Gutierrez is the one keeping Bourdais' seat warm. The road course at Belle Isle in Detroit is also a tough one to have you first drive in a new car at. It's a bumpy track with little to no room for error. Gutierrez has dealt with these conditions in GP2, Formula One, and Formula E. So long as he brings the car home in one piece at the end of the two races this weekend, the team will be happy. This is the sort of thing that often happens at Belle Isle.

The Detroit Grand Prix races will be on your local ABC channel starting at 3:30pm ET on Saturday and Sunday.