|14. Adrian Sutil – Force India Mercedes
With Force India keen to reap the dividends of the improvement it made in the 2009 season, it has retained the services of Adrian Sutil for a fourth season.
The classically-trained pianist-cum-racing-driver has certainly proved he merits a place on the F1 grid, with a great turn of speed and a supreme ability in wet conditions.
However, the flip side to Adrian is that he is still prone to fluctuations in form and has been involved in rather too many accidents for one’s liking.
In fairness, not all of the accidents have been his fault – particularly those with Kimi Raikkonen! – but some have stemmed as a result of having to push a lower-performing car beyond its limits in order to remain competitive.
But with Force India starting 2010 with a good basis on which to improve, the team may be able to invest its resources into polishing a rough diamond rather than writing cheques for the huge repair bills he seems to cause.
After abandoning plans to pursue a career as a classical pianist, Sutil moved to motorsport late in his teens.
He didn’t initially looks like future F1 potential when he found wanting in Colin Kolles’ off-the-pace F3 Euro Series team, but a surprise wet-weather-assisted pole position put paid to the doubters and hinted that better was to come from this young man.
When one of the drivers in the front-line ASM Team was injured, Adrian was summoned to stand in at short notice, and immediately took pole position despite never having driven the car before. ASM was so amazed that they signed him on for the 2005 season.
Perhaps unfortunately for Adrian, ASM also hired Lewis Hamilton in the sister car…
Despite finishing runner-up to Lewis that season, the gulf of 15 Hamilton victories to just 2 for Sutil was as galling as it was telling. Adrian resolved to improve his driving during the season, and recognised that Lewis’ skills and talent could be the stepping stone he needed.
Rejuvinated, Adrian headed to the competitive Japanese F3 championship in 2006, and duly marched to the title.
While Adrian was beating all-comers in Japan, he was also acting as a Friday test driver for Midland during the 2006 season. He comfortably outperformed the host of rookie drivers Midland fielded during the 2006 season, and was offered a race seat berth when Midland renamed itself Spyker for the 2007 season.
Sutil’s raw speed was obvious to all, and while he comfortably handled his more experienced team-mate Christijan Albers, his bosses grew frustrated with his rather frequent trips to the scenes of accidents.
When the Spyker was given a major aero upgrade for that season’s Belgian GP, he impressed with a mighty climb through the field and some neat passing moves on other much more experienced F1 pilots. He followed this performance up with 8th place and a point at the rain-hit Japanese GP in Fuji.
This was enough to earn him a continuance with the team, which underwent another metamorphosis during the off-season and became Force India.
With his wet-weather prowess shining through, he rose to a sensational fourth at the Monaco GP, only to be punted off the circuit by Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari.
The 2009 season finally saw him add to his points’ tally after several strong performances mixed with the still-occurring accident. Adrian mixed it with the frontrunners at the Nurburgring after sensationally qualifying in 5th position, only to be bumped out of contention for a podium by Kimi Raikkonen yet again. He qualified on the front row at Monza where he again was a podium contender.
- An agressive racer, who excels in wet conditions.
- Is prone to inconsistent form, and has been involved in far too many accidents with other drivers.
What defines success in 2010?
- Achieve greater consistency in the midfield.
- Aim to finally land a podium finish.
[Images via StatsF1]