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Sutil sets sights on maiden F1 podium after strong performance in Australia
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Posted By: James Allen  |  18 Mar 2013   |  6:28 pm GMT  |  73 comments

Force India’s Adrian Sutil has set his sights on a maiden podium in Formula 1 after twice leading the Australian Grand Prix before finishing seventh on his return to the sport.

The German, 30, missed the 2012 season after being convicted of grievous bodily harm following an incident with Lotus F1 co-owner Eric Lux in Shanghai 2011.

However, Sutil was given another chance by a team whom he drove for between 2007-11, beating off competition from Jules Bianchi for the seat alongside Paul di Resta.

And the German, who only had three days of testing, delivered a brilliant performance to finish seventh having started 12th, in Melbourne with team mate Di Resta eighth for a total of 10 points. It was an impressive performance from Force India who went relatively unnoticed during pre-season testing.

With the top five – Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes, Lotus and McLaren – likely to take up the points-paying positions as the season progresses, it’s important for a midfield team like Force India to take their opportunities early in the season – and this double points finish could prove crucial for the final constructors’ standings.

Sutil said: “We showed we are absolutely strong enough to score points and I’m always aiming for my first podium – for a long time I’ve wanted to do that. Whenever it comes I want to be ready – that’s a good target for this year. Maybe it happens, maybe not, but I will push for that.”

The German was one of the only drivers to start the race on the medium tyres which allowed him to go deep into the race, and run a two-stop strategy, and move into the lead. He ultimately finished seventh after struggling with graining on the super-soft tyres in the final stint.

“It was my first time leading in Formula 1,” he added. “After my second pit stop I was back in the lead once again, so I knew that it was possible to come away with a great result. It is only three weeks since I knew I was back and I just had three test days – it couldn’t be a better start.

“I knew it was probably a little advantage to start on the medium tyre compared to the other ones – they grained up the tyres in qualifying already – so I was expecting to go in front but of course leading the race I didn’t expect, it’s even better that it happened. This result for the team is a perfect way to start the season and I want to say a big ‘thank you’ to the team once again.”

Deputy team principal Bob Fernley added: “Adrian’s return to racing has been fantastic and it’s clear he has lost none of his speed or racecraft. He was on a different strategy to most of the front-runners, but made it work beautifully and showed strong pace throughout the grand prix.

“Paul was on the opposite strategy and finished just a fraction behind Adrian in the end. He probably could have passed Adrian in the closing laps, but he held station to ensure we brought home the strong team result.

“Ten points is a great effort and confirms the pace we have demonstrated all weekend. Hopefully we can build on this next week in Malaysia.”

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73 Comments
  1. Grant says:

    If he wants the podium he (force india) better learn how to manage the softer tyres the final stint was shocking

    1. Harry says:

      easy to say, but they were pioneering – that’s the first time anyone has used the new Pirelli supersoft at the end of a GP on light fuel and a rubbered up track in very cool conditions – ie what should be perfect conditions for a supersoft tyre. It was worth the gamble.

      1. grat says:

        My thought when they brought Hamilton in for their Plan B third stop was that they should put him on the supersofts, as there were “only” 15 laps left, and he’d gotten 13 + qualifying out of the set he started the race with.

        Watching Sutil grind his tires to shreds in 8 laps reminded me why I’m not an F1 engineer. :)

    2. Agreed – that was a major tactical error by the team. They pitted him about 5 laps too early given the pace and life he still had on the medium compound tyres (I was shouting at the TV when they pitted him – it seemed that obvious to me). They should have been aiming for just a 5 lap dash on the supersofts. Still, that’s a lesson learned (hopefully) and they can move forward from there.

    3. Colm says:

      They chose less pain at the beginning, going on the harder tyres with A.S., and running long, as opposed to the other teams who qualified on the “cabbages” and were then stuck with vegetable tires, that peeled off quickly, for the first few laps.
      A.S.’s cabbages did degrade very quickly as expected, so Force India know their car, and how to utilise it at this stage in order to maximise their returns. I thought it was brilliant he got to lead, never expecting him to ever be involved in the sport again.

    4. Kimi4WDC says:

      As most drivers, except Kimi, Sutil destroyed his tyres by pushing them right out of the pit. Another good example was Hamilton. If only he took it easy first several laps he could have made two stopper work.

      Alonso also did the same with his charge out of the pit stop.

      1. Dren says:

        The Mercedes went the longest on the SS tires. They actually improved after the graining period. It is evident in both Rosberg and Hamilton’s times.

    5. Jake says:

      The teams are still learning the tyres. The used super softs lasted 13+ laps on some cars with a full fuel load. Force India can be forgiven for thinking they could get ten laps out of them on low fuel. Not a major error but a learning curve.

    6. Freddy Steel says:

      I looked at the GP on Monday and realised something. When Sutil hd changed to SS tires he was 35 seconds from Kimi. At the end he was 65 sec from Kimi. If the team had changed his SS tires after 3 laps (pit stop takes ca 23 sec) and continued on harder compound he would be able to push so much harder and maybe the result could have been even better than 7 position. The FI team must have known that Sutil’s car was killing the SS tires. Or do they not pick up anything from Fridays testing??

      1. Ashish says:

        its mandatory to run a race with two different compounds … he started the race with mediums and first pits took mediums .. so force india had to opt for the supersofts for next pits

      2. Freddy Steel says:

        Yes I know that you need to use both compounds during GP. But couldn’t the team have used SS for a very short stint (3 laps) and finished the race with medium compound?

        It would like this:
        Medium (21) Medium (25) Super soft (3) Medium (9)

        In this way he wouldn’t have lost so much time and the last 9 laps could be “qualifying” laps.

      3. Ashish says:

        But then if he would have to make another pit stop which on an average will cost 23 seconds… is it really worth it @ the end of the race??. what they could have done is used up the ss tyres in the first few laps.. n then switch to mediums… that way he would have got a lot of time to recover those 23 seconds… who knows might have ended up in the podium or atleast in 4th or 5th position

  2. jacknaven says:

    Sutil looks right on form, if Force India give him the car I’m sure a podium is possible, plus as he is a wet weather wonder he could sneak on the podium in bad conditions

  3. Laurence H says:

    So he should have finished behind Di Resta… yet is being lauded for his drive…
    Hmmmmm…

    1. Kimi4WDC says:

      Quality performance TV exposure, Force India like that.

    2. KRB says:

      Why should he have? Force India did the right thing in securing the points. Bad luck for Di Resta to have Sutil be up the road from him, and them together under little threat from behind.

      I thought Di Resta’s comments after were more than a little insolent. Though it makes clear that PdR knows that he HAS to beat Sutil this year if he’s to have any chance at a top drive in the future.

      1. MISTER says:

        But why praise Sutil for a 7th place that was more or less given to him by his team orders?

        At the same time, I think the team did the right thing. This early in the season, 10 points is worth alot, giving that we don’t know how the season will unfold.

        I also agree with you about Paul’s comments, but in the same time I feel Sutil doesn’t deserve his own topic as it was the team orders and not his skill that put him in that 7th place.

      2. James Allen says:

        He was coming from a year out of f1 and had half the number of days of testing then anyother driver on the grid bar bianchi, but still outrace his teammate. Doesn’t that drive was impresive.

      3. Scuderia McLaren says:

        +1 KRB

      4. Quick Nick Rules says:

        Pah! Di Resta was clearly holding Sutil up in the early laps, but you didn’t hear Adrian mention that once post-race.

        Sutil is a team player and hence why the team were gushing about him and his feedback as soon as he was back in the car in Barcelona.

        The contrast with Di Resta could not be more stark – has anyone ever seen him smile? He is constantly moaning and no coincidence we hear so many stories about him being very unpopular with the team and his mechanics. The fact that post-race his first instinct was to berate the team for not letting him through and at no point did he congratulate his team-mate on a wonderful comeback said it all. Di Resta is an excuse-merchant and a moaner.

        Sutil thoroughly deserves his second chance and is currently seizing it magnificently, good for him.

      5. CTP says:

        You try being Scottish and smiling simultaneously…

      6. Agree

        The only person in the sport that likes him is Coulthard … Di Resta has never prompted outright praise from anyone else in the sport so far.

      7. John O'Neill says:

        Hopefully it’ll be the last year with Di Resta in the sport. Somebody needs to remind him that he’s doing the job that millions of people around the World dream of.

        People say Kimi is boring. I’d much rather read an interview with Kimi than anything with Paul. To put that in context – in F1 Racing Magazine, they have this section where readers can ask funny/off-the-wall questions.

        Paul answered every question with a standard motorsport PR response, or motorsport cliche. I’m amazed F1 Racing even printed it.

        Even Ron Dennis stepped up and dropped in a few interesting responses when it was his turn!

        Sutil’s drive last weekend was fantastic – shame it didn’t end in a better result – but I can completely understand why they took that gamble with the tyres. Low fuel, track covered in rubber – he *might* have been the fastest car on the track by miles in the closing laps.

        John.

      8. forceindy says:

        Also at the start of the race after webber pitted Di Resta was ahead of Sutil and slowing sutil down! you didn’t see him move over to allow Sutil past, If he did Sutil would of finished higher up.

  4. goferet says:

    It sure was a mature and controlled drive by Sutil and all this on his first outing back after his break.

    One would imagine he can only get better as he gets back into the groove of F1 battles.

    Having said that, a podium seems a rather optimistic goal in these times especially so with very reliable cars.

    I mean if we have 5 world champions in different teams even if their teammates weren’t to make it on the podium, you can at least be sure that 4 out of 5 of those drivers would be in the top 5 places.

    But hey, F1 is unpredictable for a little bit of rain can turn races on their heads.

    Anyway, glad Sutil is enjoying his racing again and also glad the Force India team are getting some good news after a year of turmoil.

    P.s.

    Maybe Hulkenburg made a downgrade move by leaving Force India.

    Oh well, we all have regrets

    1. Kimi4WDC says:

      I think Hulkenberg would have had an amazing race too, he would most likely start on mediums too.

    2. Yak says:

      Reliability is somewhat yet to be really seen. Mercedes have had a few failures in testing and then again in Melbourne, including Rosberg’s DNF. Red Bull had their share of DNFs last year, as well as Webber’s KERS seemingly spending more time in a failed state than a working one. It may have been McLaren’s ECU at fault, but Webber’s already had problems this year that cost him valuable positions and points. McLaren don’t even look like they’re in the vicinity of a podium at the moment, so their reliability is somewhat irrelevant. Ferrari are usually pretty spot on with reliability. Lotus were pretty solid last year, but seem to have had some problems in testing, and I vaguely recall a lot of KERS problems for Kimi last year too. Not big DNF type failures, but still enough to lose valuable time in a race.

      And then aside from mechanical reliability, there’s of course the unreliability of tyre performance while they’re still getting their heads around new compounds, or new tyre choices for a circuit, or different conditions to what they had at a race last year, etc. etc.

      So even if the regs are mostly unchanged from 2012, and they are running the same V8s they’ve had for years now, and the cars are mostly evolutions of the 2012 cars, there’s still plenty of unpredictability that could lead to a team like FI putting it on the podium. After all, even later in the 2012 season when everyone was pretty sorted with the tyres, Sauber still put it on the podium both at Monza and Suzuka. And both drivers qualified pretty well at Spa, before being wiped out in the race. So I wouldn’t say a podium for FI is out of the question…

  5. Wayne says:

    Really? Wasn’t it more circumstance that led to his 6th place? How many cars would have to retire before Sutil hits the podium? 6 of the 8 cars from rbr, merc, Lotus and Ferrari???? And within a few Races, McLaren will be there too…..

  6. Andy says:

    I was quite impressed with Sutils performance. I think the only mistake he made was going onto the super softs 3 or 4 laps too early.
    It’ll be interesting to see how he goes through the season, especially as Force India tend to be inconsistent in their performance.

    1. Irish con says:

      I thought it was a mistake also but then when I was watching the race live again today he was losing around 4 seconds a lap on his worn mediums so it didn’t make any difference if he stayed out or pitted for super softs in the end.

      1. The Catman says:

        Exactly, he gained a big advantage by being able to run long for the first two stints, but was losing loads of time before he went onto supersofts.

        Does anyone really expect di Resta to be pleased to be told he couldn’t pass Sutil? Of course not but he did obey the teams orders to keep position and guarantee the team 10 points

        TC

  7. Dan says:

    Sutil did nothing special, he started on the mediums, but as soon as he went on to the super softs he went back to his natural position.

    Force India are fighting for 9th and 10th with Mclaren until they bring their 2012 car back, or improve, which they eventually will.

    Great start to the season though.

    1. illam says:

      sutil matched redbulls pace on 10 lap old tyres and lead the race twice. dats nothing special right?. u must consider budget when comparing top teams with forceindia.

      1. Dan says:

        He didn’t match Vettels pace as such, he just kept him begin then Vettels tyres starting graining.
        And let’s face it, Red Bull were not as fast as expected.

        All the front runners had no problems getting past Sutil on the second stints.

        Facts are he did the opposite strategy to his team mate and they got near enough the same outcome.

        He did nothing special, just flattered with a different strategy, budget is irrelivent as they are 5 fastest because of McLarens problems. If McLaren were where they should be, then Force India would be where they should be.

      2. illam says:

        yes vettel passed sutil with fantastic overtake but when he pitted on lap 37 the gap between sutil and vettel is 3.3 sec and forceindia continued for another 9 laps. guess wats the situation for mclaren with the budget of forceindia this season, budget is such an important factor in f1.

      3. Ohm says:

        That’s exactly what I thought! Didnt he end up near his team mate? Lol..he just ran longer stints in the beginning of the race so had track position and got noticed. Di Resta must’ve had similar pace on average over the race distance to end up just behind Sutil..right? :P

  8. Seán Craddock says:

    Two consecutive races that Force India have led, but I can’t help but notice what little camera time the team had. I understand in the last race because everyone cared about Vettel and the championship, but the first race of the season they should be seen more.

    Not only that but I don’t think people took Force India seriously enough. I remember during the race, Pic let the car in front of Sutil through on the straight and then cut right in front of Sutil to defend him passing on the straight. And when Hamilton overtook Sutil for position in the final stint there were blue flags waving for Sutil, even though there were no slow cars about.

    1. Random 79 says:

      Yeah the blue flags were weird. I’m not whether it was mistake by race control or the marshals getting a bit excited…but I strongly suspect the former.

      Either way Sutil would not have been happy.

  9. Mitchel says:

    If DiResta had been allowed to pass Sutil, would we still be talking up the German’s performance quite so much?

    I don’t think so….

    1. Scuderia McLaren says:

      Di Resta would not have passed. It’s all conjecture and shows Di Resta’s insolent, non-team playing character. This guy is full of excuses. Personally I think he’s lucky Bianchi didn’t become his team mate. Being blown away by a rookie after what will be 3 years same team experience would be even worse.

      Would love to be a fly on the wall at Eric Lux’s home during all this good Sutil comeback publicity. Mr Lux, apparently you have failed to destroy Sutil’s career. Next time, think about who you push around… That scar should be a nice reminder I think.

  10. Quade says:

    Sutil better calm down. He’s done very well for someone who’s beem away so long, but his team mate, Di Resta was told to maintain the order, otherwise he would have finished ahead. However, its possible that we’d have a Force India podium, but it could be either driver.

    1. Kimi4WDC says:

      Not being allowed to pass Sutil is not what Di Resta should be worried about. Frankly, he will get destroyed by Adrian this year if he doesn’t lift his game.

      1. Robert says:

        +2. Sutil is the better driver, proved that last time, and seems to have lost nothing in the year off.

  11. Rich C says:

    Sounds like a true “team” effort.

    James, do you know if Sutil has met face to face, either accidentally or on purpose, with his “victim” Lux, or his ex “best friend” Hamilton since all this transpired?

    Sounds like it would be… “awkward.”

    1. James Allen says:

      No good question. Will find out

  12. Phil Shotton says:

    Really? I can’t see it myself.

    1. illam says:

      forceindia is 5th quickest car in second half of the season2012. they finished twice in 4th place. with improved car this year who knows wat will happen. theres nothing wrong being optimistic.

  13. gudien says:

    We were treated to plenty of ‘positive talk’ during the off season from McLaren, Williams, and Sauber. And we were consistently reading of Force India’s financial woes.

    Now this, an excellent performance from the team and drivers where the team’s cars were put on different strategies.

    Why don’t other, better funded teams run different strategies more often?

  14. A good drive by Sutil on the weekend. He has commented that he is a lot tougher (and better prepared) mentally so I think we can continue to see some good performances

    A podium is probably a very real possibility (at least for the first half of the season) given the speed of the car and the ability to pick race tyres on thus use a different race strategy to the leaders.

  15. Random 79 says:

    He should have done better, 5th or 6th at least.

    Nothing against Sutil, but a bad call saw him struggle in the last few laps.

  16. Well says:

    I hope Force India drives circles around Sauber.

    Sauber lost so much credibility and good will in the F1 community by sacking Kobayashi for a moneybag. First race was karma, hope the rest of the season goes that way too.

    1. Kimi4WDC says:

      I agree with you to certain extend, and the only reason why I still support Sauber is Nico, he deserves a fair chance to show his stuff.

      Overall I dislike Monisha’s approach to a F1 Team, she should be in charge of a big government organisation, no Formula 1 team.

      1. Simmo says:

        I agree with both of you. I wish that teams would stop replacing their drivers after just 2 or 3 years – Kobayashi was a great driver, and to be honest, it seemed like last year they favoured Perez (such as when Kobayashi wanted to pit in Malaysia for wet tyres, but instead handed that priority to Perez). Instead, if they kept their drivers for just a little bit longer, we would have a better chance of seeing a rising star for the future.

        Kobayashi and Hulkenberg would have been the best option for them.

      2. illam says:

        both sauber drivers must deliver if they want to finish higher dan forceindia its not just nico. i think its hard for sauber to beat forceindia this season, they produced a good car for the start of the season which is not the case in previous years.

    2. DC says:

      Have in mind that Gutierrez has been associated with Sauber for quite some time – since 2009 to be precise. He was their official test driver in 2010, 2011 and 2012 – it is obvious the goal was always to eventually sign him as a race driver. Gutierrez’s contact with Sauber came through BMW while it was still running the team, Telmex joined later.
      Still, I like many others here miss Kobayashi and am afraid that Sauber will miss him too.

  17. dean cassady says:

    I’d rather have preferred to see what Bianchi would have done in the same equipment.

    Mark my words, Bianchi will move up the grid before the season is out.

    Somebody, ‘Well’ @16, mentions Kobayashi.
    I miss Kobayashi. I would love to see him at a higher team. But the finance structure of F1 means that Gutierrez was going to be driving at Sauber, if and when, as planned, Perez moved on. As pay drivers go, Gutierrez is at the sharp end, for sure, and I expect that he is going to be good; but he won’t be the best rookie, this year.

    1. Random 79 says:

      +1

      I was a bit dubious about Bianchi, but I was fairly impressed with his his qualifying and race.

  18. Charan says:

    Forget about Sutil James. Your even more impressive. You lost the ITV gig and you stuck with it. I’m sure it was very tough for a while. But you’ve been awesome on the radio. Its only a matter of time before your back on….

    1. James Allen says:

      That’s very kind, but I don’t want to be “back on”, as you put it

      I’m happy with what I’m doing here and on BBC 5 Live, as well as Network 10. So all good.

      1. Simmo says:

        Well if you ever change your mind, we would be thrilled!

  19. James Allen says:

    Adrian Sutil was superb.

  20. aveli says:

    sutil needs to beat his teammate first. he has neither done that in qualifying or race without special help from the team.

    1. Dan says:

      Thank you, at last some sense.

  21. Mihir says:

    Hi, don’t know if this is the correct forum to ask this questions but I posting for the first time so here goes……from the past season tires have been playing a major role in strategy. During the race there have been comments like “the car is very light on the tires” or for Mercedes…”the car is very hard on the tires”…can anyone explain how a car is light/hard on its tires… How is it Lotus can do a 2 stop while others had to go for 3…what is it in the car that helps tires to last longer…

  22. Quick Nick Rules says:

    I’m just gutted he never got on the podium – with Kimi winning it would have been a prime opportunity to send Eric Lux up to collect the winning constructor’s trophy, if nothing else than for the awkward looks as Bob Constanduros screamed ‘And now….The Champaaaaagnne!’ AWKWARD!

  23. Quade says:

    One question to ask is; would the FIA allow a convict on the podium, or would they make his race so strange to protect the F1 image?
    Queue blue flags, weird penalties, maybe outright bias and “magic.” Sutils 2013 would be interesting to watch indeed!

  24. Anon te says:

    He may have been at the front at one stage of the race but without any major team/car faults and whilst holding up the top drivers he still only finished 7th.

  25. Andrew M says:

    Sutil did the same as loads of drivers have done in the Pirelli era – took advantage of the broken qualifying rules that reward drivers getting knocked out in Q2 over the drivers who out qualify them and make it into Q3. I guess it was impressive after a year out, but he was never leading the race on merit, and in spite of what the commentators were saying he was never on for a podium.

  26. paul jaworski says:

    Everybody needs a bit of luck to win a race. Some hope for rain at the right time. others pray that it stays away. Other times a safety car will make or break someones drive. Sutil and his team put themselves in a place where with a bit of luck he could have won the race. That in itself is an achievement.

    1. Dan says:

      lol at no point could Sutil have won the race.

      He simply did the reverse strategy to his teammate and only stayed ahead of him at the end because of team orders.

  27. Jimbo says:

    Though is more interesting these days it’s a shame that the majority of the discussions revolve around the tyres. They’re balls of rubber, nothing more. It’s a shame when the ‘drama’ of the race is down to “Oh no he pitted 2 laps too early on his soft compound which meant that his super soft tyres had more degredation…”

    TBH Pirelli being in F1 looks bad for them. Though F1 tyres are far different to road tyres why would I want to have Pirelli tyres on my car when they fall apart after 50 miles lol

  28. L33t_Of_Lag says:

    Sorry i didn’t have time to read others posts, but I think Sutil is one of the most underestimated drivers of all time. Props to him.

    PS, GO WEBBER! (Sorry i’m an Aussie) :P

    (You know it’s weird. My team is Williams, I go for Webber for obvious reasons, but I much prefer underestimated drivers like Sutil. Makes the sport much more interesting, and not a business venture.)

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