Adrian Sutil returned to a F1 car for the first time in 15 months yesterday, testing for Force India at Barcelona. Although there is no further official word on who will get the second seat next to Paul Di Resta, the German was optimistic that he had done enough to be considered.
“It was a good day. We started off doing some aero work in the morning, but it was cold out there and the track was in green conditions. Then, later on, we did some set-up work, some tyre testing with the different compounds which is new for me.”
“After one and a half years out of the car it’s hard getting back there but it actually went quite quick to be on the circuit pace.”
“We got some good lap times in before lunch, and after lunch focused on long runs and used the hard compound. Again, it was quite different to drive, but it more or less it was a good day for us. And it was nice to be back in a Formula One car!”
With rumours persisting Sutil was brought back to be placed in a shoot-out with young Frenchman Jules Bianchi, Sutil was adamant that he was only focusing on his own performance in the car after his time away from the sport.
“I don’t think it’s a shoot-out. They know me better than any other team. I was here 5 years – 6 years if you include test roles – and they know about my performance.”
“Many drivers have shown that if you have one year without driving [in F1] and you come back you can do that quite easily. Maybe with a longer time like two or three years it gets more difficult. One year is not a problem.”
“The times today show I’m still quick and hopefully I can get a drive. What more can I say?”
With 2014 engine regulations on everyone’s mind, as well as how to source sponsorship in such a difficult market, the decision made by Force India may be influenced by external factors.
“I’ve done everything to do my comeback here. It’s up to them to decide and there’s one more competitor in there. For sure, it’s not all about driving, maybe there is also a bit of business behind it. I can’t do anything else.
“I did a good day and I can sleep without any worries. It was all about driving they would have confirmed in January.”
The ongoing saga of who’ll partner Di Resta has been one of the most interesting stories in the paddock this winter, but Sutil agreed that it needs to be sorted sooner rather than later.
“I expect one week. But a few people in the team they say for a month “next week we make the decision” but it can’t take any longer. In three weeks there’s a race in Melbourne. It’s about time to confirm the drivers.”
The new Pirelli compounds are causing concern up and down the grid. With a day of running with them under his belt, Sutil confirmed that they are gaining a certain notoriety.
“The tyres could be better of course. That’s the way they are. You have to work around them to make them last as long as possible.”
“The soft tyre delivers good grip but just for one lap. The medium tyre a bit better, maybe get out two laps, and the hard tyre maybe three laps. And the race is 60 laps, so we might have a problem!”