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2007 Rookie Preview - Adrian Sutil 14 Mar 2007

Adrian Sutil (GER) Spyker MF1 Racing Third Driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Japanese Grand Prix, Practice Day Suzuka, Japan, 6 October 2006 Adrian Sutil (GER) MF1 Test Driver. Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, Canadian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Montreal, Canada, 23 June 2006. World © Sutton. L-R): Colin Kolles (GER) Spyker Team Principal and Adrian Sutil (GER) Spyker. Formula One Testing, Barcelona, Spain, Day One, Monday 12 February 2007. World © Hartley/Sutton Adrian Sutil (GER), ASM Formule 3, Dallara F305 Mercedes (2nd, left) and Lewis Hamilton (GBR), ASM Formule 3, Dallara F305 Mercedes (1st, right), enjoy the champagne. Formula 3 Euro Series, Hockenheim, Germany, 16 April 2005. World © Sutton Adrian Sutil (GER) Spyker F8-VII. Formula One Testing, Barcelona, Spain, Day One, Monday 12 February 2007. World © Hartley/Sutton

In the final part of our look at the 2007 newcomers, we consider a man who counts Lewis Hamilton among his biggest fans, Spyker’s 24-year-old rookie, Adrian Sutil.

Unlike most of his contemporaries, Sutil’s first love was not found on a race track but in a concert hall. The son of a celebrated musician, the young German seemed destined to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a concert pianist, until a chance discovery of karting at the age of 14 transformed his career aspirations for good.

After dominating various regional karting series, Sutil graduated to compete nationally, eventually taking third in the German championship aged 17. Although the highly-competitive European championship a year later proved a harder nut to crack, Sutil’s determination seemed to intensify. Cutting his losses, he boldly exited karting and moved into single-seaters for 2002, landing a race drive in the Swiss Formula Ford series.

In this case, fortune certainly favoured the brave and Sutil dominated proceedings, winning all ten Swiss events, while simultaneously taking five victories in the Austrian Formula Masters tournament. In 2003 he headed back home and competed in Germany’s Formula BMW series. Finishing sixth in the championship, Sutil failed to win a race but did take three podiums and as a result, earned a seat in the prestigious F3 Euroseries for the next season.

Racing for future Spyker team boss Colin Kolles’ team, it marked the start of a long and fruitful relationship for the pair. Even so, ambitious Sutil was brave enough to risk burning his bridges with Kolles by making a switch to the more competitive ASM team to partner fellow rookie Lewis Hamilton for the last two races of the season. The German held on to the seat for the following year, once again partnering Hamilton.

Though it was the British driver who would dominate in 2005, Sutil ended the year second best, with two wins to his name and a Formula One testing contract with Midland for 2006 in the bag, courtesy of his old friend - and now Midland team boss - Kolles. Over the year he enjoyed three impressive Friday practice outings for the team at the European, French and Japanese Grands Prix, finishing all but one session ahead of his Midland race colleagues.

Ever mindful to keep racing, however, Sutil refused to become blinded by his glamorous new Formula One opportunity and chose to compete in the 2006 Japanese F3 championship at the same time. It was a wise decision and resulted in a confidence-boosting first title but it wasn’t long before he had even more reason to celebrate.

A surprise promotion in December to a race seat at Spyker - formerly Midland - was evidence indeed of the team’s belief in the young German’s talents. Just nine years into his career and with just five seasons of single-seater racing experience under his belt, Sutil’s dream of a Formula One drive had come true.

Also see: Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen.