2011 F1 season
Adrian Sutil is expecting a tough midfield battle this year as rival teams Sauber, Williams and Toro Rosso have made progress over the winter.
Speaking at the Circuit de Catalunya yesterday he said:
“It’s a difficult one. Looking at Sauber and Williams, they started last year a bit worse than they finished.
“Over the winter they have done a good job and look quite strong, also Toro Rosso have made a step and are in this group who look very close together. Going into the top ten will be a tough goal.”
He said Force India are aiming to be in the top ten at all circuits: “That’s our goal and I think we should be able to reach that.”
He added: “The test here means nothing, we will see at the race. In the race it’s not always important to make the fastest lap times, the overall time at the end, how you make your tyres last is what counts.
“It’s a big step backwards compared to Bridgestone”
Sutil said he’d tried to do a two-stop run in his race simulation but couldn’t make the tyres last:
“I did a three-stop strategy in my race simulation. I was aiming for a two stop but I did a little stint at the end because my tyres were finished. We will try to see long we can list (pit stops) but with ten laps to go on my simulation it was undriveable.
“It will always be different in a race situation, it’s just testing.”
He expects that situation to remain in the first race of the year: “What can we do. That’s all the discussions we have. The tyres are the same for everyone. That’s how it is.
“We will be doing three to four pit stops. The cars are just very slow around the circuit at the moment and whether it’s dry or wet in a race situation, we lose a lot of seconds at the moment.
“It’s a big step backwards compared to the Bridgestone tyres on the dry and intermediates as far as I’m concerned. It’s like driving on ice sometimes.”
He said the matter was discussed in the drivers’ meeting with the FIA on Tuesday: “But we can’t really change anything.
“Pirelli chose the construction of the tyre. Now it’s too late to change the whole package. We have to live like this for this year.
“Pirelli will do their improvements for the tyres and I’m sure next year the tyres will be better. They need experience, they haven’t been in F1 for a long time. Pirelli have tyres in many other categories so they should be able to make a good tyre.”
No second chances in qualifying
Sutil also pointed out that as the tyres wear out so quickly, drivers will only have one chance to do a quick time in qualifying:
“With Bridgestone if you didn’t make it on your first lap, the tyres lasted and you had another chance.
“To make it all on 107% is very difficult. I think you will have to change your driving in the race a little bit, it’s probably not the best to push to the maximum in the first couple of laps you have a big drop off at the end.
“It’s better to start slower and be more consistent and that’s what we try at the moment and the tyre probably last two to three laps longer driving that way and that’s important for the race. If you can save a pit stop in the end, it could be key in the race.”
He added the wet weather tyres are also not performing to his liking:
“I drove them when I was here last time in Barcelona when it was wet. It wasn’t a lot of rain. I used the intermediates and then I tried the heavy rain tyres for a couple of laps and yet compared to the dry tyres they were even worse I think. But they will talk in Australia about this.”
Sutil expects the new tyres will make for exciting races this year: “For spectators yes, there will be more action in the race.
“I was quite happy with the races were anyway the last few years. I think this year is going to be quite a challenge, the tyres are giving up very quickly.
“We have all the new tools on the new car, the tyres and the new wing so it’s quite challenging for drivers and teams. I think it will be more interesting for those people watching.”
DRS no help for Force India
He said the introduction of the Drag Reduction Systems and return of Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems doesn’t offer a particular advantage for Force India:
“We are still a small team and all the new systems need to be developed. I wouldn’t say we have a big advantage.
“I think it’s more difficult for us to adapt to the new systems than the bigger teams as they have more capacity, more people.
“In general I see quite a lot of chances if you make the right pit stop, make the tyres last a little bit longer and there will be a few chances this year in the race. It could be quite good for us sometimes.”
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