Exclusive interview - Force Indias Adrian Sutil 20 Jun 2009
Friday was a good day for Adrian Sutil and the Force India team. In both practice sessions the big new upgrade package on the VJM02 really delivered for the young German - he was third fastest in the afternoon. Even if practice times are sometimes inconclusive, they are at least an indication that Force India is on the right road. And a great performance on their home turf would, of course, be extra rewarding for the Silverstone-based team
Q: Adrian, you started the season with high hopes - what is left from those hopes?
Adrian Sutil: Well, its been quite a good season, lets say. Weve finished almost all races. We do our improvement steps on the car. Weve brought another here to Silverstone so everybody is quite excited to see how the car performs, but in general I can say sometimes we are close to the points - sometimes even racing in the points - and that is what Ive expected, so I am pretty satisfied.
Q: At the Turkish Grand Prix you made it into Q2 and said that for you it felt like having clocked pole position. So qualifying showed that the pace is improving. Unfortunately you couldnt transform that into a race result. What happened?
AS: Ah, it was an extra good qualifying for us. It felt really, really good. Probably some teams had some problems that got us there, but I had great pace so Q2 was well deserved and unfortunately I couldnt show that in the race. Honestly I didnt expect to make it to Q2 in Turkey because this is a really tricky track for us so, as I said, it felt like pole. Probably in the race the strategy was not perfect, but it was still ok. I struggled a bit with the soft tyres at the end. I did a very good first and second stint, but then at the end the pace was not there.
Q: Wasnt it an unusual feeling to be sandwiched between two McLarens, and your good friend Lewis Hamilton even behind you?
AS: It was a bit strange, true, but then we had this situation quite a few times so Im getting used to it and it is nice to race against big teams. Its good for us as a team - and racing against Lewis is always a pleasure. We respect each other, but we nevertheless fight hard - and there was hard fighting on the first lap and I really enjoyed that.
Q: There have been constant upgrades to the car since the start of the European races, but are you satisfied with the development speed?
AS: The development always could be faster, but every driver from every team will say that. Fact is that we have to compete with big teams who have lots of people - in fact many teams have double the people we have - and that always makes it hard to keep up, but I am confident that something is moving on. In fact we have to do a double step because the other teams are not standing still in their development. It is hard, but I am optimistic.
Q: What is new on the car? And how did it feel in practice? Silverstone is a very demanding course for man and machine
AS: We have a big new package here - its the front wing, the side pods, the floor and the front spinners - and for qualifying we will add the last new bits. You could see in the two practice sessions Friday that everything worked really, really well. It was really good to see that what the engineers anticipated with this new package did deliver on the track. Especially in the afternoon it was great to see us keeping up with the usual pacemakers!
Q: The time gap between the cars is getting closer and closer - in Turkey all 20 cars were within 1.5 seconds in qualifying. In previous years such a gap would have secured a position in midfield and not at the end of the grid. How difficult is it to find technical improvements at this level?
AS: It is really close this year and the last qualifying in Turkey was really amazing. And yes, it is really hard to find those last tenths when the field is that close together.
Q: How demanding is it for the driver to be in a car with less pace than others? Do you sometimes go over the limit in a bid to make good the difference?
AS: Yes, that is true. You can also see that happening at McLaren. Lewis has to push really hard - you can see that in the little mistakes or when he goes off the track. It didnt happen in the last two years when he had a really good car. When you have a good car you dont have to go over the limit, and that is the advantage that you have as a driver. You just drive your laps - just as Jenson (Button) is doing right now. I dont think that he is one hundred percent on the limit - he is controlling everything and can drive cleverly and put some laps down when he needs to. That is the real benefit if you have a good car.
Q: Silverstone is home turf for the team, with the factory barely a mile away. That must give an extra boost. What are you taking from that this weekend?
AS: It is really nice for us to be here. All the people from the factory come here to the paddock and see for themselves what they are working so hard for. So to try to put on a good performance here is a matter of honour.
Q: So what do you expect to show here? Q2 again?
AS: After Fridays session I am confident that we can make that step, and believe me I would be very happy if I could do it again - but it will be hard work! Keep your fingers crossed!