Exclusive interview - Force Indias Adrian Sutil 11 Jan 2008
Adrian Sutils rookie 2007 season garnered him plenty of plaudits, but little in the way of actual results. But with the former Spyker team transformed into Force India, 2008 brings with it a secure budget and two new team mates, in the shape of Giancarlo Fisichella and tester Vitantonio Liuzzi. No wonder Sutil is looking confidently to the future
Q: After a difficult 2007, with budgetary issues, changing team mates and a troublesome car, things are looking much brighter for the coming season. You have a new and committed team owner and an expanded engineering department. How are you feeling the changes?
Adrian Sutil: At the moment you can see how everything is falling into place. Everything became much more serious. You can feel that everybody in the team now believes that we can achieve our goals. The engineers can finally start to develop things because the budget is there, as Dr Mallya said that if there is extra money required he will not hesitate to spend it. Its a palpable increase in professionalism.
Q: The team has taken on more engineering staff. What effect do you expect, and in what timescale?
AS: Obviously the aero side was our weak point. Now with three wind tunnels running it will definitely turn for the better in the forthcoming months. But we all know that nothing comes overnight - especially not in such a challenging environment as Formula One - and it is simply not possible to compensate for the shortfalls of years in weeks and months. But during the season we should be able to make quite a leap forward.
Q: So the last row of the grid is a thing of the past?
AS: I sure hope so. Probably not at the flyaway races at the beginning of the season, but when Formula One returns to Europe we should do better. A permanent place in Q2 is the goal - but that all depends on how well we do our homework. The possibility for the change is there.
Q: Your rookie year is history. What are your personal expectations for 2008?
AS: Everything should be a little easier now. I know all the circuits, I have adapted to how Formula One works, how to prepare for a demanding season, and I feel much more self secure, so I cant wait for the beginning of the season. My resolution for 08 is to minimize mistakes and with an enhanced car it should be possible to score more than one single point.
Q: Your new team mate is a very experienced driver and a proven race winner. What do you expect to learn from him and what will he bring to the team?
AS: Giancarlo was absolutely the best choice available to fill the second cockpit. He will propel the team and I am sure I can adopt a lot from him. It is always good if you have a team mate who can push you - and that was not always the case last season.
Q: How well do you know Giancarlo already?
AS: We just met briefly but he seems to be a very nice guy and from what I know he is a good team player. That is what is needed as the primary goal is to enhance the performance of the car and the team - co-operation is the word of the moment.
Q: Last season you were usually top dog within the team. Now with Giancarlo where do you see yourself in the teams pecking order?
AS: I am sure we will be treated equally. In a building-up process it would not make any sense to have a driver hierarchy - we will keep that for when, one day, we will be fighting for podiums. Until then it is equal opportunity.
Q: As the battle for the second Force India seat was raging you were able to sit back in comfort and watch. How did you perceive it?
AS: It was interesting to watch. There were a number of big names in the game and it was juicy to see that some of them faced difficulties driving that car. They suddenly understood that it is far from easy to work with that material and show performance. It was also a good comparison for myself, to know where I am standing.
Q: So it must have been a relief for you to see that so called big names were doing no better than you with that car?
AS: Absolutely! Seeing them in the gravel, seeing how they fight with the car. It was a relief for sure.
Q: Were you surprised by the performance of some of those drivers?
AS: Without saying names - that would be inappropriate - yes, I was surprised, because you might have problems outside your control, like red flags etc, but in the end you have a whole day and that should produce some presentable results - especially as they were all experienced drivers, so I guess you would expect more.
Q: The Force India driver line-up, two Italians and one German. A good mixture?
AS: I am sure it is. I have known Tonio for quite some time - hes a good guy - and Giancarlo seems to be easy to deal with, so it should be a good basis to start and build up the team. Much better than last year!