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Q&A with Adrian Sutil: I needed Malaysia result



The smile is well and truly back on Adrian Sutil’s face. While 2010’s two opening races were a bit disappointing for the Force India driver, the Malaysian Grand Prix saw a real reversal in fortunes, as Sutil came home fifth to move one point clear of seven-time champion Michael Schumacher in the standings. With any feelings of self doubt gone following Sepang, and the VJM03 looking more and more like a regular points’ scorer, the young German is targeting more success at the forthcoming Chinese race, as he explained to…

Q: Adrian, it was an exciting race for you…

Adrian Sutil: Well at least over the 20 laps when I was fighting over P5 with Lewis (Hamilton). That was really exciting. The beginning was rather odd because there was nobody behind me and in front there was Robert Kubica and I couldn’t really keep up with him. In the second stint I was able to get a bit closer to him, but there was really no way of catching up with him as my guess is he was about one-tenth faster per lap. It became a real race when Lewis showed up behind me. At the time the car was really good, and as I didn’t make any mistakes, there wasn’t a chance for him to get past, even though the McLaren is one of the fastest cars on the grid. I really, really enjoyed it!

Q: The fight with Hamilton earned you plenty of television airtime. Your team principal Dr Vijay Mallya must have been pleased…

AS: Yes, it was really good. I think it’s what the team deserves. To be considered as one of the teams to watch. As I said before, Lewis didn’t have the chance to overtake unless I made a mistake, and obviously I didn’t make any. I think he enjoyed our on-track battle as much as I did.

Q: So it looks like your luck has changed…

AS: Well, I hope so. I needed that finish. Having been so competitive at the first race and left the track empty handed was hard to take, especially when it looked like it would stay the same. I needed and I wanted that result. I had a very good weekend. Everything went right this time in qualifying and in the race. The team did a brilliant job and I think that we can all be very proud of it.

Q: Did the fight with Lewis remind you of your Formula Three days?

AS: Yes, a little bit. It is always nice when we meet up on the track. We know each other and we both know that the other would always push very hard. There is no friendship on the circuit. That sets in again after the chequered flag. But we respect each other and that is a key element when you are racing at this level.

Q: Did you expect it to rain?

AS: No, not really. It drizzled a bit at the start but there weren’t any of those rain-soaked clouds in sight so I thought it may well be a good dry race.

Q: Kubica overtook you at the start. What went through your mind at that moment? Were you a little frustrated?

AS: A little bit. I was on the outside at the first corner because there wasn’t any space for me on the inside. Inside is always better because you are then on the outside in the second corner and you have a better exit. This is what Robert did and it worked out for him. He did another very good start off the line. The Renaults were really, really quick there, but I was okay with it. As long I was able to keep fifth place – and that’s what we did.

Q: Do you think Force India and Renault will fight for P5 in the constructors’ championship?

AS: In general yes, as the results speak for themselves. At the moment, I would say that we are something in the range of one-tenth off their pace, but my second stint showed that I can catch up, even though it’s harder to overtake. But we are constantly improving.

Q: Both Force Indias made it into Q3 on Saturday. Will that be the case for the rest of the season?

AS: I hope so. There are signs that it should be, especially when we head back to Europe. I would say that we will be consistent Q3 runners. We probably have to focus a little bit more on the start and see what is going on with the behaviour of the clutch. We are expecting some upgrades at some of the next races.

Q: It looks as if you have matured this season…

AS: Hopefully. It is also true that if you are in front and you get good results, then this happens because you suddenly see what you have in your hand. It means you have more responsibility towards the team. I strongly believe that the penny has dropped.

Q: You are one point ahead of Michael Schumacher in the standings. How does that feel?

AS: Not bad at all! Well, in general I would say that Mercedes are ahead of us and that he had a poor day on Sunday. But it is also good to see where we are – we can fight against the big teams and the big names. It is not easy, but possible. And we have to seize every chance there is.

Q: So what’s the feeling ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix?

AS: It’s a very good feeling, exciting. I needed that result, and I hope that I can do it again in Shanghai!

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