Watch a Mercedes-AMG Formula 1 Car Break Sonoma Raceway’s Lap Record
The previous lap record was set by IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden, and the time difference will shock you.
Former Formula 1 driver Esteban Gutierrez recently set an all-new lap record at Sonoma Raceway in California at the wheel of a retired Mercedes-AMG F1 car.
Gutierrez appeared at this past spring's Sonoma Speed Fest, which sought to replicate the Goodwood Festival of Speed in California, but at the popular Sonoma Raceway. There, he drove a 2016 Mercedes-AMG W07 Hybrid, which holds the distinction of being the second most-dominant car in F1's history, winning 19 of the 21 Grands Prix it entered.
Though Gutierrez struggled with the Silver Arrow's 1,000-horsepower V6, narrow tires, and minimal downforce, he laid down a time of 1:15.430, or about 0.090 seconds quicker than the race lap record of 1:15.520, set in 2017 by Josef Newgarden in a Chevrolet-powered Dallara DW12 Indycar.
If you've been paying attention to recent lap record debacles, you know that Gutierrez's record isn't about to go down in a record book somewhere. Though his lap was quicker than the circuit's race lap record, he didn't complete his amidst a sanctioned race, meaning Newgarden's record will continue to stand. (Responsibly, the event's organizers labeled his lap time an "unofficial" record, one worthy of respect, if not one that signifies much.)
At the same time, you can't help but wonder just how much quicker other drivers could have gone in the same car. The year Gutierrez raced against this W07 was his last in F1, as he performed poorly against his teammate Romain Grosjean, scoring zero of his team's 29 points. You can't shake the belief that most other drivers from the 2016 grid, from his erstwhile teammate to his underrated countryman Sergio Perez, could've put on a better lap. Also, would it be rude to ask the commentator to tone it down a bit and let us listen to the car?