TG chats with Team Force India
Amaan Ahmed talks to Sutil and di Resta about the upcoming season - conversation includes cows on Indian streets and more
Team Force India have come a long way. Last year, they had two 4th places, and did pretty well overall. They will now form the midfield for the coming season, and look good enough to challenge the likes of Sauber and Williams, and maybe even end up achieving their first podium finish, if we look at the encouraging initial test results. A raft of changes have made their way to the sport over the last year, and one major change includes the comeback of Adrian Sutil - replacing Nico Hulkenberg. After his infamous incident in 2011, he's back, along with his relatively new team-mate Paul di Resta and is hungrier than ever to take that podium spot. We had a little chat, and tried staying on-topic...somewhat.
TopGear: You've been out of the groove for quite a while now, what did it feel like taking to the wheel after a year-long interval?
Adrian Sutil: Well, the first few laps as expected were a bit jittery. It did take a while for me to settle into the drivers' seat after my brief hiatus because I didn't do any racing all of last year. However, when I first tried the new set of tyres, it felt much better, the new car is anyway much easier to drive than the earlier example and somehow, seems to suit my driving style. I settled down quickly after the initial testing phase, the following driving sessions were smooth as well, we did some dry as well as wet laps, and now I feel like I'm ready to race. Preparation could always be better, but you get the drift.
TG: Do you think a break from the sport has had an impact on you? Did you consider shifting to some other motorsport category in the meantime?
AS: It does hold some significance, obviously, but I don't think it's made a massive difference to the way I drive. You see, there are many drivers who come back after a while and are still at the top of their game. Kimi Raikkonen stayed away for a couple of years, and last year he was one of the most, if not the most consistent driver. It's all about staying fit and possessing that drive to be at the top of the table. I was going through a hard time last year, and wanted a break from racing to find myself. Support poured in from all quarters, and I kept getting better, followed every single race keenly. I wasn't a part of the race myself, but at the end of the season, my only goal was to get back to Formula One. If that didn't happen, I may have shifted to DTM, but I just had to get back to racing somehow.
TG: Noticeable improvements on the car compared to last year's car, Paul?
Paul di Resta: The entire construction, the compounds have all changed, so it's difficult to explain fully. As an overall package, it's much more consistent, more reliable now, just that little bit easier to drive. The new tyres suit my driving style a bit better. This year's car is by far the best car that we've designed so far. We've managed to achieve a good mix of stability as well as performance, and that was our goal before the start of this season, so we're in good spirits ahead of the first GP.
TG: Goals for this season, chaps?
PdR: Looking back at last year, our consistent ways should translate into bigger, more significant results for the team. Consistency will be key, in short.
AS: I've been with Force India for quite some time now. I race to be the best, I want to be the best Formula One driver, and that's the real goal if you ask me. I've been so close to securing a podium finish in the past but haven't been able to achieve it yet, so yeah, I'm desperate to get up there this season, especially since I've been here longer than Paul.
TG: You're desperate to secure a podium spot, any superstitions that you believe will get you there?
AS: Not really, I'm not the most superstitious driver you'll find. Can't wear the same helmet, it would reek. I do have a few beliefs, yes, like I get into the car from the left. If someone asks me to get into the car from the right, I just won't. A small thing, but that's about as superstitious as I get.
TG: You're Force India drivers, what is that fascinates you most about the country?
AS: There's just so much to India, it's almost like an adventure. There's two extremes to be seen, the extreme riches, and the extreme poverty. It's absolutely crazy here. The gap between the rich and the poor is shockingly wide here, but then, the country has its plus points too. I love the food here, and I am yet to go sightseeing around the countryside, I've been making plans but you folk (the media) always hold me up.
TG: Would you like to try your hand at driving through Indian traffic?
AS: I'd give it a shot, certainly. It does seem like a huge challenge, something that I'm not sure I would be able to face up to everyday. I'm lucky enough to have a chauffeur otherwise. The traffic here is out of control, there are cows at every roundabout, but I've always maintained that there must be a great racing driver hiding out in the streets.
PdR: I don't think it would be all that difficult, all you need to do is permanently glue your hand to the horn (which is what I think happens here), and everything would just sort itself out.
AS: I've seen people not stop at traffic signals, no lane discipline...are there any traffic rules in India?
PdR: Ban the horn, just ban it, for God's sake...