Exclusive Adrian Sutil Q&A: I hope future is decided soon 10 Nov 2011
Last months inaugural Indian Grand Prix was a real highlight for local heroes Force India. Having never made more headlines than they did in New Delhi at their home event, Adrian Sutils ninth-place finish made the patriotic build-up more than worthwhile. Despite his recent successes Sutils seat for next season isnt yet secure, but with Force India the most consistent finisher after the top three teams over the last seven races, the German is keen to stay
Q: Adrian, how exciting and how special was the first ever Indian race for a driver of a team called Force India?
Adrian Sutil: It was very, very special. There was a huge amount of attention - more than we usually get at a race - so we felt an obligation to do well. We always try to do our best but at such a special race there is that extra adrenalin rush that allows you to squeeze out everything there probably is and I think we did. In the end we were very happy about the two points from my ninth place.
Q: So how did it feel to have so much attention on you?
AS: Sure, it is different - to be that much in the public eye. And it definitely didnt feel bad! (laughs) I definitely could get used to it, even though in the end all F1 drivers live under a magnifying glass, as we only number 24. And, hey, its Formula One, not just any racing series. And as I want to make it to the very top it is good getting used to it beforehand.
Q: Did it feel unusual to be racing in the tricolour of the host country?
AS: Oh yes. So many people looked as if they were part of the team - even if they werent - just because they were dressed in the Indian colours. It looked like the team had thousands and thousands of team members! (laughs) To race in these colours was really special. The fans on the grandstands were cheering every time we passed - you could see how proud they were for their country and for us. So the two points I bagged I hope were a reward for all the emotional support that we received.
Q: Aside from their emotional value, how important were the two points?
AS: They were very important for me as I want to be able to say that Ive done my best and points are a good measure of that. It meant that we all - the team and I - gave our very best. More was simply not possible but less wouldnt have been satisfying. Sometimes two points taste as sweet as six or eight points if you know that youve given it your all.
Q: After an excellent qualifying session you seemed to struggle in the race, but then finished in the points. Was it down to strategy?
AS: I would say that it had a lot to do with the fact that Renault were on a completely different strategy. They pitted at the end of the race, so before then every time I passed our pit wall I anxiously looked at the info my guys showed me and wondered why I still hadnt moved forward in the standings. (laughs) In the end it was important that we stuck to our strategy and didnt get nervous about what the others did. It paid off. Of course luck came into it - when one of the Toro Rossos retired - but I think we deserved our position. Speed is one thing, but reliability gets you points in the end.
Q: Could another strategy have delivered more?
AS: I dont think so. We had a few problems on the soft tyres - probably more than others - but on the hard ones we really did well. We couldnt and shouldnt have done anything differently. We had different strategies on our two cars and mine worked and Pauls (Di Resta) didnt really. But as Paul already went into the race outside of the points it was worth a try.
Q: A drivers team mate is their first rival. At the beginning of the season the advantage clearly was on Di Restas side, but over the course of the season you fought back and now the advantage is on your side. Does that feel good?
AS: Of course, because if I remember the start of the season I was really on a downturn and some tried to walk all over me. So I am proud that I had the power to fight back and turn the tables. That was important, as it really helped me to find my strength again. Knowing that however down you are, you are able to put the shoulder to the wheel with your own strength was very rewarding. And the race results have followed.
Q: So it sounds like you feel comfortable in the VJM04?
SV: Yep, the car feels good and I feel good in the car. Now every time I get behind the wheel I dont have to worry. I can just put in the best performance possible without thinking about any reliability issues. It helps a lot. And with good performances to add to your balance sheet it definitely puts you ahead for further negotiations. With my performance and my points tally I think I can recommend myself for the future.
Q: When it really counted it was you who delivered the points. Does that make you hopeful for 2012 and onwards?
AS: I hope it does.
Q: Force India seem set to finish sixth in the constructors championship. Overhauling fifth-placed Renault will be hard
AS: I think so, but we still have to concentrate as Toro Rosso have been enjoying a pretty steep upward trend lately. Remember they scored 12 points in a single race in Korea. So concentration is key!
Q: Will Abu Dhabi or Brazil be the track for Force India?
AS: I would say this weekend could be pretty good for us. And then lets take it from there - one race at a time.
Q: Force India has a new co-owner with Sahara. Has it changed the teams structure?
AS: From what I understand the structure stays the same, the hierarchy stays the same. But of course Mr Subrata Roy is a major player in the Indian economy so the reception in India was very visible.
Q: You have asked for an early decision on your contract to allow you to make plans for your future. What is your deadline?
AS: There is no deadline, but of course I want to know as early as possible what my 2012 will look like. I feel very comfortable here, but of course you have to meet halfway so I have asked for the decision to be made sooner than mid-December.
Q: There are rumours that Kimi Raikkonen wants return to the sport which means therell be less free cockpits to choose from. Will Raikkonens actions affect your own?
AS: I have no idea. In the end we do not know whether Rubens (Barrichello) really plans to retire. I have heard that Kimi wants to come back, but theres also a question about whether a team wants to take the risk of bringing somebody back who was hasnt driven for two years. We will be surprised over the next couple of weeks. (laughs) We could see somebody move over in one of the top teams
Q: But are you pretty sure that you will be in F1 in 2012?
AS: Yes, I do see myself in Formula One next season. Force India clearly is the priority. I remember when I joined this team it was nowhere and with hard work we have managed to push the team forward to deliver good points. Together weve all done a good job so why would someone change horses in the middle of an upward trend? I believe that Vijay (Mallya) also understands that.
Q: So there is a chance we will see you in Force India colours next season?
AS: I very likely could be. (laughs)
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