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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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1

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) 😛

(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.)

2

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

3

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.

4

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.

5

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.

6

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.

7

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!

8
Quick Nick Rules

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!

9

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…

10

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

11

Thank you, at last some sense.

12

Adrian Sutil was superb.

13

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….

14

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.

15

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

16

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.

17

+1

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

18

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.

19

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.

20

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.

21

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.

22

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.

23

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.

24

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.

25

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?

26

Really? I can’t see it myself.

27

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.

28

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.”

29

No good question. Will find out

30

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.

31

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.

32

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

34

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….

35
Scuderia McLaren

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.

36

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.

37

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.

38

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.

39

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.

40

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.

41

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? 😛

42

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.

43

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.

44

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.

45

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

46

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…..

47

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

48

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…

49

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

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