Adrian Sutil admits his crash in the closing stages for the Chinese Grand Prix was a great shame for him and the team.
The German, a renowned wet-weather specialist and famous for being punted out of fourth place by Kimi Raikkonen in last year’s Monaco Grand Prix, was just six laps away from scoring Force India’s first-ever World Championship points after an aggressive strategy vaulted him up to sixth place.
But when the rain began to fall harder with just minutes of the race remaining, Sutil, on worn tyres, was unable to keep his car on the road and aquaplaned off the track into the barriers.
“I had prepared myself for a hard race and that’s exactly what it was,” he explained afterwards. “We took a risk with the strategy with a very early stop and it was a long way to go with one set of tyres.”
“Then it started to rain again and it was very hard to keep the car on the circuit. Sometimes even in a straight line in fourth or fifth gear I was struggling with aquaplaning and I was very lucky to keep the car on the circuit for so long.”
“It’s a shame – you focus so much and think you can do it, but the car was just out of control at the end.”
The incident bore hallmarks to Sutil’s race in Monaco last year when he was running in fourth place only to be punted out of the race by Kimi Raikkonen.
“I had the same feeling as Monaco – it’s hard to believe when you are in the car and then suddenly you lose it and it’s all over from such a great position,” he reflected.
“But you have to get over it, we had a great performance today. It’s good for the team and I think we deserved the points, I just feel bad for everyone here. It was a very good strategy call, but that’s what we had to do: take a risk.’
Team principal Vijay Malaya was full of praise of his driver despite the disappointing end to the race. “What a phenomenal race and yet what heartbreak,” he said. “We can all be very proud of Adrian and the team’s achievements today.”
“He has proved yet again that he has a genuine flair in the wet and came desperately close to scoring those elusive points once more. We made all the right calls in the race and functioned very well as a team: it was just such a shame we couldn’t translate it to the points at the end of the race.”
“Although we know we have much work remaining, both Adrian and Giancarlo’s performances give us a shot in the arm and shows that, if and when, the conditions allow we can be right up there. I must also extend my warm congratulations to Red Bull for a well-deserved first win.”