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Adrian Sutil Q&A: Force India the 2011 priority 09 Sep 2010

Adrian Sutil (GER) Force India F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Race, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Sunday, 29 August 2010 Adrian Sutil (GER) Force India F1 VJM03. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Race, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Sunday, 29 August 2010 Adrian Sutil (GER) Force India F1 and Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India F1 Third Driver walk the circuit.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 14, Italian Grand Prix, Preparations, Monza, Italy, Thursday, 9 September 2010 Adrian Sutil (GER) Force India F1 VJM03 on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Hungarian Grand Prix, Race, Budapest, Hungary, Sunday, 1 August 2010 (L to R): Adrian Sutil (GER) Force India F1 with Dr. Vijay Mallya (IND) Force India F1 Team Owner.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Hungarian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Budapest, Hungary, Saturday, 31 July 2010

Adrian Sutil is driving the best season of his Formula One career - and it hasn’t gone unnoticed. Gone are the times when only he knew that he could race with the fastest on the grid - now he has demonstrated to the world that he can do it. Nevertheless, Sutil says it would take a very special offer to tempt him away from Force India, the team with whom he has shared a remarkable journey in recent years, as he explained exclusively to Formula1.com in Monza…

Q: Adrian, after two disappointing races - Germany and Hungary - finally you were back in the points in Belgium with P5. What makes Spa such a good place for Force India? Giancarlo Fisichella’s pole last year was a sensation…
Adrian Sutil:
We still have that straight-line advantage, our straight-line speed is extremely good, and if this is the case you normally are very fast for Spa, but also for Monza. That’s why we have good results on these two tracks. For sure, last year’s result - Giancarlo finished second - was a benchmark that was almost impossible to repeat, because the other teams have picked up on our advantage, so we didn’t want to sound too overly optimistic before the race. But yes, our car works perfectly on high-speed tracks so we had hoped that finishing well in the points would be possible. Actually I went to Spa with a very good feeling, sure that I would finish in the top six, and there you go, it worked out even better. But then remember that last year after the two good results of Spa and Monza we went to Singapore and we were nowhere!

Q: Finishing the race as the top German driver was surely something you had not predicted?
Well, I never really thought that it would be possible to finish as the best German driver in this race. I just tried to finish as high and well as possible. But yes, it was a quite nice feeling if you consider that at least one (German) is still fighting for the championship. I was somehow waiting for quite a long time to see that happen.

Q: It is no secret that the mid-season races were difficult for your car, but the team have managed to hold on to sixth spot on the standings. How important is that for the remainder of the season?
We knew that it would be difficult in Hungary and Germany, even though the car was not that bad. We knew that we’d made a mistake in Hungary - without that we could have added some more points, as I think that P8 or P9 would have been possible. The good part of those races was that we didn’t lose any position in the drivers’ or constructors’ championships, as we really wanted to stay ahead of Williams - and Williams are picking up lately. So we managed that, we are still in the game, and with Spa and now here in Monza we think that we can keep P6 in the constructors’ championship.

Q: Even the front-running teams envy the VJM03’s top speed. Red Bull’s Helmut Marko was in Force India’s hospitality not so long ago saying that he wished the Red Bull had that kind of speed. So where are the main shortcomings of the car?
Yes, we got that top speed issue right last year. It was a very low-drag car and very fast on the straights. Over last winter we tried to keep that speed on the straights and tried to put on some downforce. In fact we’ve increased the downforce a lot, which made us lose a bit of the straight-line speed, but we are actually still a bit ahead. We still have problems on tracks with slow corners, as we cannot put more downforce on the car otherwise the top-speed advantage is gone. On many tracks we run with maximum downforce where other teams probably only run medium downforce because they have so much more to put on. We just can’t and know that we have to improve in this area. So our Achilles’ heel clearly is downforce and aerodynamics is where we have to improve. Otherwise the settings of the car and the behaviour are very nice. It’s pretty neutral with not much under or oversteer. We simply need more grip and corner speed everywhere - and keep the top speed. That will bring us to the front. I know all that sounds very simple and easy, but that’s the secret of Formula One: to get the car right for all purposes, for all tracks.

Q: You are one point ahead of Michael Schumacher in the driver standings. Would you have ever thought that possible?
Well, first of all I would have never guessed that I would ever race against him. But when he came back I thought that he will really have a strong season joining Mercedes - the former Brawn team that won both championships last year - so then to find myself one point ahead of Michael is quite something. In fact if you look at the driver standings I am sandwiched between the two Mercedes drivers - and that is not bad!

Q: You have been one of the drivers to make a strong impression this season. Will that have any bearing on your future plans?
I am not sure. At the moment I am out of contract for next season so I am looking what is the best option for me. In the next few weeks - maximum one month - I want to know what I am doing next year. I don’t want to wait too long. Still I would say that my first priority is Force India because I think that this team has potential and a future and I feel very comfortable here. I would say that taking all this into account it is quite hard to find a better team. I only want to change team if there is a real reason for doing it.

Q: So Force India has priority, but what would have to come your way to persuade you to switch teams?
If one of the factory teams comes and tells me that they want me for some years, then I would think about it. And if I say that I count McLaren or Red Bull among these teams, then I could consider a switch. All the other teams are not better than Force India hence there’s no reason for me to make a change. I love that Indian flavour of the team. I am always happy going to India and seeing the enthusiasm there, so I’ll have all that in mind when I make my decision. Plainly spoken, I love it here.

Q: How does it feel to finally be able to give people a glimpse of your true talent after so many lean years?
It feels damned good. I always knew that I can race in the front - probably I was the only person who knew that! All the others just stare at the results - and results have been hard to come by in the past. But now after a period of ‘leanness’ the car is ready and the results show it. It is a team success - we have built up a good team and that is satisfying.

Q: So races weekends nowadays must be more enjoyable than in the past…
Of course they are. We are more organized and we have more self-confidence because we know that we can do it. Two years ago it was just a dream to score even one point. We got nervous when we made it into Q2, hoping that everything would work out. And then in the race we weren’t a hundred percent sure what to do because we needed that point so badly and that puts you under immense pressure, and that is a situation where you can easily fail. Now it is very different: to score only one point would be a disappointment. Strange how fast you get used to good results! Now we want more.

Q: Monza last year was your best result of 2009. You started from P2 and finished fourth. Will it be a case of deja-vu this weekend?
I hope so. Hopefully somewhere around P4. In Spa it was P5 and I would love to do this again. Let’s see how it goes. I know that we have a good car and that should give hope. Last year I was fast in FP1, I was fastest in FP2 and FP3 and made it to the front row in qualifying alongside Lewis (Hamilton). That was very special and to repeat that will be very difficult.

Q: Who is your bet for the front row for the race on Sunday?
I think that the McLarens will be very strong here. I would say Lewis will do it again - and me next to him. That would be amazing.

To watch Formula1.com's 2009 Italian Grand Prix race edit, click here.