Exclusive interview - Sutil determined to build on Monaco form 02 Jun 2008
It was nine laps from the chequered flag when the attack came from behind. Adrian Sutils courageous Monaco drive - it took him from 18th on the grid to an almost-certain fourth place - ended when Kimi Raikkonen ran into the rear of his Force India.
With it went the dream of five world championship points. But there is always a silver lining. Sutil was widely hailed a hero and he heads to this weekends Canadian Grand Prix with his reputation revitalised
Q: Adrian, youve had a week for the events of Monaco to sink in. How do you now reflect on that fateful moment?
Adrian Sutil: The great support from Force India, sponsors, my manager and all the sympathies of my fans made it much easier for me accept what happened. It is compelling how many fans wrote in my guest book. It must have been more than 700 in the past seven days.
Q: Going from 18th on the grid all the way to fourth; overtaking 16 cars including Heikki Kovalainen; fending off Kimi Raikkonen - were you already counting the points in your head as you were driving?
AS: No, I just tried to be concentrated all the time. For sure it was unbelievable when my engineer told me over the radio, Youre lapping Kovalainen, youre not racing him. Just overtake him. And when I heard, Massa is in front of you and Kimi is behind you, I felt really, really good.
Q: You may not have scored any points, but for many people you were the true winner of the Monaco race. Does that help you overcome the frustration?
AS: Yeah, the great response and all the congratulations from almost all the F1 team principals and TV experts made me very proud as it indicates that my drive will help me to go further in F1.
Q: How surprised were you that it was an apparent lapse of concentration from the reigning champion that ended your hopes? And did he come to see you afterwards?
AS: Things like this do happen, even with world champions. Kimi had a bad weekend, but he is one of the best F1 drivers and I do have a lot of respect for him. He came to me and gave his apology to me. Im sure that he is really sorry that he could not avoid the accident.
Q: So far the Force India VJM01 has not been a top-end performer - what happened in Monaco? What was your set-up secret?
AS: I felt it already in the morning when I saw out of my window. Rain was expected and I had the feeling 'today could be my day'. The car was well prepared, the strategy was perfect and my team did a fantastic job. Its not only sad for me, its really sad for my mechanics and engineers. It would have been so nice celebrating with my guys a fourth place in Monaco. From the start I had a fantastic feeling in the car and was sure to make a perfect race. I love the Monaco race and when its wet anything is possible, as we saw.
Q: It was a bit of a gamble to go for only one stop, but it paid off. When was the strategy decided - and what were the key factors in that decision?
AS: We decided finally in the morning. Coming from 18th and having wet conditions made the decision quite easy.
Q: Seeing that you can do it if the car and the conditions are right must be a huge motivation boost for the coming races - for the team too, as they did a fantastic job
AS: Yeah, for sure it will help. But we do have to keep our feet on the ground - and we should not dream. Chances like this do not come so often. And if Im honest, it will be very difficult for us in the next races. We are the only team that does not have a new car. We still drive with the 07 car. So we will push and do whatever is possible. But it will be difficult this year to have consistently good results.
Q: Was Monaco a one-off golden opportunity, or do you see other tracks that could hold similar chances? And is a wet track essential?
AS: Well, with wet conditions for sure the chances are much better. There will come some tracks like Spa, Valencia, Singapore, and my home GP in Hockenheim, where I do hope to have good results.
Q: You have proved yourself once more - is it a load off your mind? And how will that translate for this weekends race in Montreal?
AS: My boss Vijay Mallya and (team principal) Colin Kolles gave me all the time and the support that I needed. I never had the impression that my berth in F1 would be endangered. But for sure the Monaco weekend gave me a big push, which hopefully I can translate into a respectable result in Montreal.