Exclusive Adrian Sutil Q&A: I feel like Ive finally arrived! 22 Sep 2009
At last months Belgian Grand Prix, Giancarlo Fisichella gave the big teams a major scare by putting Force India on the podium. And at the last race in Monza it was Adrian Sutils turn to star for the Silverstone-based squad, starting from the front row and finishing fourth - Sutils best F1 result to date.
For the ambitious young German it was about time he finally had a car worthy of his talents. Here he discusses Force Indias upswing in performance, and his personal plans for 2010
Q: Adrian, in Spa you seemed a bit crestfallen about your result compared to that of Giancarlo. So Monza must have felt great
Adrian Sutil: Yes, it was very important to prove at the next race that I could match the performance. I had some problems in Spa, although we had a very good car there. In my opinion Monza was even better as it showed that Spa was not the much anticipated one-off, but that we have really moved up in terms of performance. The whole Monza weekend was very, very good. We were in front the whole of Friday and during Saturday practice and had a very good qualifying. Now it is so different to race compared to last year or the start of the season. I really enjoy it. Nothing compares to that very special view from the front row! Its a good feeling to finally arrive where you always wanted to be - and it was about time. The first two years were really tough. You always had to keep on believing in yourself. I never gave up because I was pretty sure that the time would come when I could finally say yes, this is it.
Q: Thirteen points in two races is a fantastic result. At what point did that immense technical step forward start to take shape? And what were the crucial ingredients for that jump in performance?
AS: I think the big update that we had for Valencia is the cornerstone to our performance now. From there it has been going upward. Valencia was already good, but for Spa we optimized the package and suddenly it worked very well and it also worked very well in Monza. Both tracks - Spa and Monza -suited our car very well. Now we have good downforce and straight-line speed and that is what makes a good car right now.
Q: The Mercedes V8 seems to be the engine to have at the moment. What is so special about it?
AS: It is a very strong engine. I could not tell you what is so special, but I feel that at the moment they are doing a little bit better job than the others. I also think that the Ferrari engine is very strong. After following one in Monza I would say that their engine is on a similar level. But yes, the Mercedes engine is the engine you would want to have in your car right now.
Q: You were probably a little envious of Giancarlos move to Ferrari. Would you have guessed that you would finish ahead of him?
AS: Before he moved he told me that he would probably be slower in the Ferrari than in the VJM02, because he knew that our car is really good right now. But as an Italian driver it must always be your dream to race for Ferrari once in your life, so he moved on. I think that he had a very difficult weekend, as it is very difficult to change the car to your liking over the weekend, without having any practice and no time to adjust yourself. I think he did okay, he finished the race in P9 after starting from P14. I think that over the next few races it will work better and better for him. He is a strong driver and I think he will come very close to Kimis (Raikkonen) performance.
Q: Your team mate Vitantonio Liuzzi did a fantastic job given his long absence from the cockpit. Were you surprised, especially as the VJM02 is not the easiest car to drive?
AS: I think that our car is easy to drive compared to a Ferrari, for example. Tonio did an amazing job. I really didnt expect that, but he was really there. After nearly two years out of the car, going straight to Q3 is a great achievement. He did a lot of work in the simulator at McLaren,and I think that kept him fresh and helped him to step into the car and perform.
Q: Next week the flyaway season will start again, with back-to-back races in Singapore and Japan. They are both very different tracks, so how are you and the team preparing?
AS: We will get an update package for Singapore and that will be actually our last update for this season. It should help us in Singapore, but even more in Suzuka. Suzuka is one of our tracks, just like Sao Paolo. Now is the time when all the teams start to focus on next years car and so will we.
Q: Over the coming weeks the 2010 driver line-ups should be completed. Where do you see yourself next season? And what will be the crucial factor in your decision? How big an issue will the engine supplier be?
AS: The crucial factor for me right now is that my team is really competitive. It is hard to say if I want to stay another year with Force India or move on. I am really happy to have an option with my team for another season. It is for sure the first choice that I will discuss, but lets see how the next races go. Then lets see who is interested and take it from there. I am quite relaxed as my team is doing very well and I can imagine staying for another year. For sure, the engine supplier question plays a big part in my considerations, and luckily Force India has a contract for another year with Mercedes. I will have a close look. It will be a difficult decision to make if a manufacturer team shows an interest, as it would be a big opportunity. I am now in my third year with a small team and for sure the next step could be to move to a big team. But in reality, the success has to be right, not the size of the team.
Q: So maybe youll stay at Force India for another year?
AS: Absolutely. I wouldnt have any problems with that as I like it a lot. We have been working so hard and all the people there have become very dear to me. Yes, I could imagine staying there.