A perfect comeback - Exclusive Q&A with Force Indias Adrian Sutil 18 Mar 2013
An adventurous strategy call combined with some superb driving made Australia a great weekend for Force Indias Adrian Sutil, back on the Formula One grid for the first time in 16 months. Starting 12th, he twice led the race en route to an eventual seventh-place finish. Now hes hoping for more of the same in Malaysia next weekend
Q: Adrian, a fantastic race after a seasons absence from Formula One competition. How does it feel, picking up your performance level where you left it in Brazil 2011?
Adrian Sutil: Thanks, yes it was great fun to come back with a perfect race like that. I enjoyed it a lot. Sahara Force India gave me this chance to come back. Without them I wouldnt have had the opportunity to show such a performance.
Q: You twice led the race - how much hope was growing in your head that you could bring it home?
AS: It was great to lead an F1 race for the first time. I think it was 14 laps and I enjoyed each of them, but I was realistic and knew that a win or podium at this race was not realistic. But I fought hard to stay in front as long as possible (laughs)
Q: How did that feel, being in the lead? You were almost an F1 has-been and now you have bounced back in style
AS: I just enjoyed having such a good car and being able to stay ahead of Sebastian [Vettel], Fernando [Alonso] and Felipe [Massa] for some laps.
Q: Much has changed with the tyres since you last raced and yet after only three days testing you seemed to manage the Pirellis as if youd never known anything else. How come?
AS: I had a good feeling from the first test on in Barcelona and there is still a lot to learn and to improve. At the end of the race when I had to take the supersoft tyres I wasnt sure for some laps if I could finish the race with this set of tyres. But after some laps with really bad lap times they came back and I could save P7, which was a great result for me.
Q: What can you tell us about the strategy you were on? Almost everyone else started on the supersofts whereas you finished on them - did that make all the difference?
AS: I was very lucky to have the chance to decide which tyres I will start with. And we decided to start on the medium ones. This choice was the right one and I could even have stayed out for some more laps on them. The car felt fantastic and so I was even able to take the lead as all the others ahead of me had to pit earlier to take new tyres.
Q: You said that the weakness of McLaren would play to Force Indias advantage. Was that what we have seen?
AS: This race in Melbourne was very lucky for us, but McLaren is such a strong and experienced team that Im convinced they will come back soon. Our only chance is to take all the opportunities we get. This time it worked out perfectly for us.
Q: How long do you guess Force India can keep McLaren behind before the big team hit back?
AS: As I said, I fear McLaren will come back sooner than we would like.
Q: The VJM06 looks like a serious points contender. Where do you see the strengths of the car?
AS: Yeah, Im convinced we should fight consistently for points. We need to improve and push hard, but this car looks great and gives me a lot of confidence that we will be successful. These guys in the factory and at the track did a fantastic job. Thanks for such a good car.
Q: Melbourne is one thing, but what about next weekend in Malaysia. The conditions will definitely be different. Whats your guess?
AS: We will see next week. Our goal is to score points with both cars. Ten points for the team at the first race makes hope for more. Now that Ive led a race for the first time, there is still my dream to be on the podium for the first time, so lets see whats possible in Malaysia.
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