x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Fall guy days are over, says Sutil

Adrian Sutil arrives at the Brazilian Grand Prix weekend somewhat battered and bruised.

Force India's Adrian Sutil crashes into McLaren driver Heikki Kovalainen during the Japanese F1 Grand Prix in Suzuka, earlier this month. Sutil spun out of the previous race in Singapore.
Force India's Adrian Sutil crashes into McLaren driver Heikki Kovalainen during the Japanese F1 Grand Prix in Suzuka, earlier this month. Sutil spun out of the previous race in Singapore.

Adrian Sutil arrives at the Brazilian Grand Prix weekend somewhat battered and bruised. Force India's German driver spun out of last month's Singapore Grand Prix, taking out Nick Heidfeld in the process and earning himself a US$20,000 (Dh73,400) fine in the process.

Then at the Japanese Grand Prix two weekends ago, he appeared to have pulled off a fine passing manoeuvre on Heikki Kovalainen only for the Finn to turn back in on him and effectively ruin his chances of a points finish in Suzuka. But Sutil is confident he can bounce back at the Brazilian Grand Prix and seal a first podium finish of his career. His best remains the fourth place he achieved at Monza for a Force India team who have rapidly turned from backmarkers to part-time front-runners.

"People may be surprised by what we've done but I'm not, as I know how hard the team have worked," he said. "There were a lot of hard races to get through first but I feel we've finally arrived and begun to show people what we're capable of. "I should be happy that I'm further up the grid than before but the thing is that I feel I could have achieved more in the last few races which is frustrating. There's still two races to go and Interlagos in particular should really suit our car.

"A podium finish is the dream but it would be great to finish in the points for the final two races." Sutil looks certain to stay on at Force India next season and take the team's impressive package forward under ambitious boss Vijay Mallya, who has earmarked race victories as his ultimate goal in the sport. But the Indian billionaire's No 1 driver is far more than just a racing driver. A concert pianist in his youth, Sutil still plays whenever he can.

His best friend on the grid is current world champion Lewis Hamilton and the pair holidayed in Thailand last year following the Australian Grand Prix. In addition to that, when Sutil's not behind the wheel or holidaying with the world champion, he loves nothing more than watching films - he has an encyclopaedic knowledge of James Bond films in particular - and dreams of starring in them. Over last season's winter break, he undertook a stuntman course in a bid to "unwind" from Formula One.

"If I wasn't a Formula 1 driver, I'd definitely be a stuntman," he explained. "I love the whole adrenalin rush of it. The stuntman course was amazing. I got to fall off tall buildings on to big, inflatable mattresses. For me, the higher the better. And I got to do some pretty cool car stunts as well. "That's actually very different to F1 as I was crashing on purpose and, despite what people might think, I don't crash on purpose in F1."

Despite his love of stunts, Sutil is less enamoured by the more risky escapades of current 007, Daniel Craig, than the actions of the previous Bonds on the big screen. Sean Connery remains his favourite while his favourite film of the series very much depends on his mood. "I find it really difficult to decide which one to watch when I'm at home," he said. "I've got all of them and I run my finger down and go 'this one, no this one, no this one' and so on. So to get me to choose my favourite is difficult."

Sutil has yet to decide on his winter plans following the season finale at Abu Dhabi but, after the bumper-car ride of the last two races, he'll be hoping to keep the stunts to a minimum at Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix. @Email:mmajendie@thenational.ae