Adrian Sutil thinks that the promotion of test and reserve driver Paul di Resta to a race seat, and the recruitment of ex-Williams driver Nico Hulkenberg to the testing role, will be a big advantage for Force India as they look to build on the successes of last season.
Force India confirmed yesterday that Sutil will remain at the team this season, making it his fifth consecutive year with the Silverstone-based outfit.
Speaking at the announcement yesterday, the German thinks that he will work well with his new team-mates. “I’ve known Paul for the past year and we’ve got a good relationship,” said Sutil. “He did a really good job in the test driver seat last year and showed he’s quick and has a good technical feedback, but he is also open about what he’s done and how he felt we could improve. That’s really important for the team so it should work well.
“I know Nico relatively well and he seems like a good guy. Having a good test driver is positive as you know that in every area the team is strong.”
When asked why he wanted to stay with the team for a fifth year, Sutil said that Force India are continuing to show a year-on-year improvement in performance and results, and predicts that they will continue on this upward trajectory. “Over the past four years we’ve made huge progress. When I started we were at the back of the grid and since then we’ve got stronger and stronger and are now achieving real results.
“Force India is now genuinely a strong midfield team, but it’s got plans to be even better: I’ve seen the plans for this year and it looks positive. The car will be quite strong, the team work well together and with the new regulations favouring smaller teams we should be in a good position for the future.”
Sutil notes, however, that performances tailed-off towards the end of last season, and hopes that the team can sustain a challenge across the whole season in 2011 – and a podium would be nice.
“I was in the points a lot in the first half of 2010 and I want to keep that going until the end of the season this year,” he said. “We were quick but it tailed off a little in the middle of the year so to be consistently quick and in the points has got to be the aim. The odd podium would also be very welcome!”
This season also marks a special year for Force India, with the inaugural Indian Grand Prix scheduled to take place in October, and Sutil is looking forward to driving for the team in Delhi. “I have been to India several times with the team and have seen how the team and F1 are getting bigger and bigger. There’s now a real fan following and they have got behind the team. Being in a Force India car for the Indian GP is going to be very special and I hope I can do the fans and country proud.”