Wednesday March 20, 2013
Adrian Sutil returns with a bang after being out in the cold
By LIM TEIK HUAT
PETALING JAYA: Sebastian Vettel was not the only German who had a good day in Melbourne.
His compatriot Adrian Sutil also enjoyed a rewarding day out on track in the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday as twice he led the race en route to an eventual seventh-place finish.
And the incredible thing is that it was Sutil’s first Formula One race in 16 months.
Sutil spent 15 months on the sidelines and only returned to F1 racing this season.
It initially appeared as if his break had not hampered his pace but it seemed it did during qualifying.
The German was summoned to see the stewards after qualifying for driving unnecessarily slow.
Sutil was dropped by Force India at the end of 2011 in the wake of a night-club brawl in Shanghai that year, which led to an 18-month suspended jail sentence and €200,000 fine for grievous bodily harm.
However, with Nico Hulkenberg moving on to Sauber, Sutil saw off competition to secure a race-seat with the Silverstone outfit once more.
The 30-year-old was delighted with his impressive showing in Sunday’s season-opening race after being out of action for so long.
“It was great fun to come back with a perfect race like that. I enjoyed it a lot,” Sutil said on www.formula1.com.
“Sahara Force India gave me this chance to come back.
“Without them I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to show such a performance.”
“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 was not realistic. But I fought hard to stay in front as long as possible.”
Sutil believes that the ability to choose his tyres first up after finishing outside of the top ten in qualifying helped him immensely.
“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 on new tyres,” he added.
Sutil is confident that Force India can finish consistently in and around the top tier.
His belief is back by the fact that the team have 10 points in the bag heading to Sepang with team-mate Paul Di Resta finishing eighth in Australia on Sunday.
“I’m 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 do well.”