x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Adrian Sutil may have left his surge too late

When you get into F1 you aim to beat everyone, but that has to start with your teammate.

Adrian Sutil, left, leads his Force India teammate Paul di Resta in the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Adrian Sutil, left, leads his Force India teammate Paul di Resta in the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Adrian Sutil's end of season charge may have come just too late to save his seat with Force India.

I am baffled that he did not show the speed he is capable of until the last four races, which ended with his sixth-place finish in the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday.

I have known Sutilsince 2006 and I liked what I saw of him right from the start.

I was involved with the Midland team, who had taken over Jordan, and would go on to eventually to become Force India, and Sutil was one of the test drivers.

He tested on the Friday at the Japanese Grand Prix and he was quick straight away. He was comfortable in the car and looked like he belonged in Formula One.

He had done well against the highly-rated Lewis Hamilton in the Formula 3 Euroseries and came across as a very pleasant and calm young man. I believed he had a strong future ahead of him in the sport.

But he now leaves Brazil for the winter break not knowing what his future is for 2012.

Vijay Mallya, the Force India team principal, is still deciding whether to keep both his drivers or to promote Nico Hulkenberg, the team's third driver, into a race seat.

And that could put Sutil's future in jeopardy as for much of the season he has been dominated by Paul di Resta, his rookie teammate,

Di Resta has come in and done a great job in his first year, and it has taken until the last month for Sutil to really come to the fore, and that was demonstrated with his excellent drive in Brazil, which saw him beat the Mercedes GP of Nico Rosberg fair and square on track.

When you get into F1 you aim to beat everyone, but that has to start with your teammate as that is how your performance is judged.

As a driver you are looking to make the team you are in your own and to dominate.

That is what Sebastian Vettel has done at Red Bull Racingthis year, what Fernando Alonso has done to Felipe Massa at Ferrari, and what Jenson Button has done to Hamilton at McLaren-Mercedes as the year has gone on.

That has not really happened with Sutil this season.

Some credit has to go to di Resta for a good first year, but Sutil has belatedly shown he was capable of dominating the Force India team, and for his sake I hope it is not too little to late.

From my experience, team owners usually like to make up their minds at least midway through the season on whether they rate a driver and if they want to keep them or get someone else in the car to replace them the following year.

Performances late in the year can be a too late to sway judgements, but hopefully that is not the case for Sutil.

If he does not stay with Force India I hope he gets a drive elsewhere as it would be a shame if he was not racing in Melbourne next March when the new season starts.

Sutil is not the only driver on the F1 grid not sure of his future, with by my reckoning eight seats still up for grabs for next year.

Only one of the Toro Rosso drivers is likely to stay as I expect Jean-Eric Vergne, who was fastest in the Young Driver Test in Abu Dhabi earlier this month, to slot in there.

It is hard to call who will miss out between Jaime Alguersuari and Sebasiten Buemi, but I would guess it would be Buemi.

The one thing that did surprise me was the signing of Pedro de la Rosa by Hispania Racing Team for next season.

De la Rosa is 40 and while he will bring experience to the team, I think that could have been used in different areas.

I personally would have preferred to see them getting a young, hard charger in, someone with something to prove and who will be hungry to impress and show what he can do.

Johnny Herbert is a former F1 driver with three career victories. His column is written with the assistance of staff writer Graham Caygill