Adrian Sutil Q&A: Force India targeting top ten 25 Mar 2010
Force Indias Adrian Sutil endured the worst luck of the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend. After making it into Q3, Sutil was hoping to bring home a haul of points, but a distracting plume of smoke from Mark Webbers Red Bull at the first corner saw him drop down the order. Although he eventually finished 12th, the young German is hopeful his VJM03 is quick enough to challenge McLaren and Mercedes this weekend in Melbourne
Q: Adrian, how was the Bahrain race weekend for you?
Adrian Sutil: In general it was a good introduction to the season. On race day the first corner was clearly disappointing, but I managed to chase a lot of spots as my car had very good pace. So I cannot say that it was a bad weekend, in fact the contrary is the case, as the performance of the car, the engineers, and the mechanics was just perfect and there were no problems at all. To finish in Q3 was our targeted goal, and this is what we achieved, and it is a very good feeling to be able to build on this. I think that we are right behind the top teams, so we can consider ourselves as the number five team on the grid at the moment. Of course we are just one race down, but we have to improve to be considered one of the top teams in the future. I can see Force India will be able to attack Mercedes and McLaren.
Q: How did you feel when at the first corner, your excellent qualifying performance was cancelled out?
AS: It was clearly an unfortunate situation, and the major reason was the cloud of smoke, which meant there was basically no visibility. But it is how it is, and I am fully motivated for this weekend.
Q: The speed of development will be crucial for your team
AS: At the moment we are very efficient, and the development curve is steadily pointing up. We have many updates scheduled for the upcoming races. Last year we already displayed how good our development is. We were at the very back and we were able to jump up into the front rows. Only McLaren had the same development results as we did. All the other teams had difficulties, even though they had a much better development and logistics standard already in place. So I am pretty sure that we will be able to show the very same curve of development this year as we were able to achieve last year. For sure it is easier to close a big gap. You have to have the right ideas and you have to choose the right direction and be able to execute it. Our advantage is that we have been very quick in making decisions, and that was the reason why we were one of the first teams to adapt for the double diffuser last year. This year we have seen some extreme solutions from other teams and you have to be quick to adapt to these.
Q: What does the departure of technical director James Key mean to you and the team?
AS: Over the last couple of years James was able to contribute a lot to todays standing of the team. He did a great job and we have to respect his decision. I do not think that we will suffer a lot, as Mark Smith has found his place now and he is a very experienced person who has worked very closely together with James. Mark knows exactly how to move forward, and if I take a look at all the planned updates for the upcoming months, there is no doubt that we will be able to make a lot of steps forward.
Q: Did you expect the car to be as good as it was in Bahrain?
AS: I had the feeling that we would be able to get into Q3 and be able to mingle amongst the top ten. But of course it was a very big relief when we confirmed this during qualifying in Bahrain. The feeling is totally different when you are equipped with a good car. You suddenly have a different goal that you want to achieve. And every year you need to improve to get to the front, which is every racing drivers goal. My goal for this year is be amongst the top ten, and to be able to get points on a regular basis.
Q: You were able to get some fastest sector times during the Sakhir race. What were you pre-season targets?
AS: Our goals have been to improve in the fields where we suffered last season. So we have clearly identified the slower tracks, where you need lots of grip like Singapore, where we were two seconds behind. That was so disappointing after the result of Monza. So we have clearly marked this to be a main goal - to have a car that is consistently good on all kind of tracks. During testing in Barcelona we were already able to show that we have achieved exactly this. I was surprised that we were able to, as Barcelona was always a very difficult track for us. In Bahrain, during both the race and qualifying, we were extremely good in the middle sector and the pace was very quick. Of course we know that we still have a very long way to go, if you look at Red Bull Racing and Ferrari. Our focus will be the teams directly in front of us, and that is Mercedes and McLaren. And I see that we can possibly aim for this already here in Melbourne.
Q: Do you think that teams like Williams, Toro Rosso and BMW Sauber are underperforming?
AS: With Williams I am quite sure that they have confirmed their standing, as they have been quite close to us, but definitely not quicker. BMW Sauber I thought would have been quicker and stronger, as they performed very well in testing. But then, its still only testing. In Bahrain it was a different track, as you have long straights, but also a very narrow infield with lots of grip. Here in Melbourne the most important thing is downforce, but also the brakes. We will see how we are able to perform, and how the others will.
Q: What is your goal for this weekend in Melbourne?
AS: Top ten - in both qualifying and race.