Q&A - Force Indias Sutil looking forward to home race 11 Jul 2008
Having competed in the European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring in 2007, next weekend Adrian Sutil will enjoy his first experience of driving in a German Grand Prix at Hockenheim, the event he regards as his real home race. He spoke to Force Indias press office about his thoughts on Hockenheim and the season so far
Q: How do you feel about racing at Hockenheim and your first German Grand Prix?
Adrian Sutil: Actually it was the first track I ever saw. When I was 12 we went to Aachen, where some of my family lives, and we passed through Hockenheim. It was right when I was starting in karting. I asked my mother to stop there, and I went up to the stand. I was sitting there watching for half an hour, no cars running, nothing at all! At this time the long straights were still there, going into the forests. I was thinking one time I want to drive here, it's the goal in my life. It was such a special feeling when I was sitting there, just dreaming.
Q: How often have you raced at Hockenheim?
AS: I've been there with many different cars and had many races there, so it's really a home race for me. I did Formula Ford, Formula BMW, F3, even the Beetle Cup as a guest starter! So going there in an F1 car will be really nice.
Q: What kind of success have you had there?
AS: Good success! I always had some of my strongest races in Hockenheim. I had a few wins there and always when I finished I was on the podium. So I have really good memories. I'm really looking forward to this race, because it's one of my favourite circuits.
Q: Have you ever actually been to the German Grand Prix?
AS: In 2006, when I was a test driver, I couldn't go because I was in Japan. But I was there in 2005, watching from the stands, which was really nice.
Q: So you didn't actually go into the paddock that year?
AS: No, I just came with my girlfriend. We were sitting in the stadium, at the Sachs corner, and it was really, really cool. It was a great atmosphere, I really loved being in the stands with the crowd like that. Schumi (Michael Schumacher) was really quick in this race. It was all red in the stands, for sure!
Q: So when you drive round on the race weekend you'll know what it's like for the fans...
AS: Exactly! It's such a special feeling when you're sitting there, it's incredible. The sound and the speed of the cars is fascinating.
Q: What about the circuit itself?
AS: It's a great track. I never drove on the old version, although I did do the short track in 2002. The first corner was still the old one then, but I didn't do the long straights. The new version is a really nice circuit. The first corner is a really challenging and quick corner, and then you have the long straight down to the tight hairpin, which is really slow, but good for overtaking. Then you come into the best sector on the track, into the stadium. It's a nice right hander and you can feel the atmosphere, you can feel the people sitting there. The double right hander onto the start/finish line is a special corner, really difficult. I think if you have lots of experience on this track you can gain a little bit at this corner. Now, having driven it in an F1 car it's even more impressive. It's so quick, it's amazing.
Q: Do you think the German fans are paying more attention to you now?
AS: I hope so. Especially after Monaco I got more fans, I think. We'll see in Hockenheim. The longer you are in F1, the bigger your name gets. It's just the normal way.
Q: We are already half way through the season. What's your overall feeling about how it's gone so far?
AS: Actually over the last few races, from my performance point of view, I can be quite happy. I've just been very unlucky! Monaco was very unlucky for sure, and also before that we had some good first laps, and then had mechanical problems. We've had too many zero scores in the first nine races. I think only three times I've seen the chequered flag, and it's not enough.
Q: You didn't finish in Monaco, but do you think your performance there did your reputation a lot of good?
AS: It was similar to last year, when Monaco helped me quite a lot. After the season that was the only thing people could remember of Adrian Sutil was that he was in P1 in Monaco practice. I think it was even more effective this year with this race. In Monaco it seems like I'm always good for a little show there! It was nice to take this chance. There will maybe be a few more chances this year, and we have to make sure to take these chances.
Q: Are you hoping for rain in places like Spa, Fuji and Shanghai?
AS: Spa was very good last year in the dry! Some rain and good strategies will help, for sure, but we have to perform in all conditions. We are not able to race in the midfield at the moment, and we have to improve our car. I think the last update is worth about two or three tenths. The car feels quite good, and there is a lot more potential in the new parts. But we have to hope for more rain, although this year there's been quite a lot already! It's sometimes hard, because when it's wet you have to take a chance, and when it doesn't work out, the disappointment is quite big.