Adrian Sutil: the driver debates

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Here’s the first in a new series of articles where I’m going to open the floor to pretty much any comments you have about each of the drivers in turn.

First up: what do you think of Adrian Sutil?

I first became aware of Adrian Sutil in 2005 when he was Lewis Hamilton’s team mate at ASM in the Formula Three Euroseries. To say Hamilton showed Sutil the way would be quite the understatement – the British driver won 15 races out of 20 (which would have been 16 but for an unfortunate disqualification) while Sutil claimed only one.

Of course, Sutil didn’t have anything like the kind of manufacturer support Hamilton had at the time (and indeed for several years beforehand). Where Hamilton had Ron Dennis, Sutil had Colin Kolles, who guided him into F1 last year after the German driver won the 2006 Japanese F3 title.

His experience in Japan paid off when he scored Spyker’s sole point last year at Fuji in dreadful conditions. He also shined in the wet at Monte-Carlo, leading practice on the damp streets last year. He quickly out-stripped Cristijan Albers, who was duly shown the door, and Sakon Yamamoto proved no problem either. I ranked him 18th in last year’s driver rankings.

In Giancarlo Fisichella Sutil has a very telling benchmark as a team mate. Historically Fisichella tends to have performed better in less good cars and tended to beat his team mates until he found himself up against Fernando Alonso and Heikki Kovalainen at Renault.

Simply matching Fisichella will earn Sutil some kudos but to get the top teams knocking Sutil will have to start out-qualifying and out-racing him week-in, week-out.

How do you rate Adrian Sutil?

Adrian Sutil biography

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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24 comments on “Adrian Sutil: the driver debates”

  1. Varun Murthy
    25th March 2008, 9:21

    I think he is pretty decent.He had a great start this week when he jumped up from 20th to 14th before he had to retire..he was in fact challenging Vettel and was getting held up by him..And mind you,the Force India car is basically last years Spyker with loads of Aero mods..He will definitely match Fisico in the race when he gets his qualifying form on track(All the getting tyre temperatures up stuff)..And i dont think we should be comparing Sutil with lewis..Lewis is a thouroughbred from the Mclaren stable..and the only similarities between the Force India car and the Mclaren is that they look similar from very very very far away..
    PS:I am from India and i am u huge supporter of Force India.This fact could have clouded my judgement. :)

  2. Sutil may have out-raced Albers and Yamamoto, but what does that show? Not much is the answer. He looks quick, though, and his career will probably mirror Fisichella’s, i.e. he’ll do OK in crap cars for ages.

  3. Jan-Force India Fan
    25th March 2008, 10:17

    Sutil is an very good racer, but in the qualifyngs he have problem to bring the tires on the right temperature. I think the team is more focused on Fisichella. I hope he has an great future with this team. His advantage is that the media is not so focused on him. He is not under pressure like Rosberg or Vettel and will have enough time to develop.

  4. It may be too early into 2008 season to judge but I think Sutil has been quite dispointing this season. He has no excuse like Kovalainen had last year or Piquet may have this year. He has 1 racing season under his belt and he is in the same team he was last year.

    Fisichella is not Alonso, but remember that Sutil was one of the candidates for McLaren seast this year … If he can’t match Fisichella soon he can forget about top team drive … If he gets dumped by Force India, he can forget about any F1 drive ….

    Liuzzi is always ready…

  5. Anirudh Asokan
    25th March 2008, 11:48

    I think it’s too early to judge who is better….in both the GPs (Aus & Mal) Sutil was ahead of Fisi before having to retire…I say he has not got the right opportunity to prove himself…damm bad luck

  6. I suspect we could have another Nick Heidfeld on our hands – good enough to always be in work, and to take advantage of any chance he gets of decent machinery or favourable circumstances, but never destined to be a superstar.

  7. Andy has it – the guy is competent but nothing special.  He can prove me wrong by doing a Kovalainen on Fisichella but I just don’t think it’s going to happen.

  8. I like him and would like to see him excel, although at this point he is not getting the chance to make headlines

  9. Adrian could be thought of as the driver with potential but lacking in natural talent. A mixture of Pedro De La Rosa and Martin Brundle, he will have to work hard to keep a drive and may even become a test driver for some of the top teams at best. He may do better as a commentator than a racing driver, as is the case with Martin.
    Great blog, by the way.

  10. Sutil is over rated. Force India (what a silly name) sould have signed Klien or Luizzi with Fisichella. Sutil needs more mileage in his logbook before we know what he’s worth.

  11. Most of you guys underestimate Sutil big time, because you do not know his career background.

    All you know is, that he lost to Hamilton in F3 in 2005…
    But what you do not realize is how remarkable that was from Sutil’s side.
    The results back then actually show his natural talent. It is no surprise that Hamilton himself regards Sutil not only as a friend, but as one of the best drivers.

    Let me explain.

    Sutil started his racing career at the age of 14, that is very late by today’s standard. Think about it, at this time Lewis had been racing for six years already, wining at international carting races.
    In fact, in these early days every single opponent Sutil faced was three times more experienced than him.
    Still he prevailed and quickly moved up the leagues.
    That is another reason, why people underestimate him. His  past results do not look that impressive. But this is only because most of the time he moved up a class right after his rookie year (e.g. after only one season in
    F-BMW right into F3 Euro).

    And so we come to 2005. Yes, Lewis was dominant, no question about it. But most of time Sutil was just 2 seconds behind him at the finish line. 2 victories and 11 podiums are not too shabby against all these "high-potentials" like Hamilton, di Grassi, Vettel, Rossiter, who all have been driving before they could walk.

    And this is the main difference of Sutil to all other latest rookies in Formula One. He really has the big potential to improve as he is still low on his personal learning curve, so to speak.

    He is already beating Fisichella in race trim and he will get better in qualifying. I am confident that by the end of the year there will be no doubt who is the better Force India driver.

  12. I must say, although I don’t know much about his pre-F1 history that I’m definitely underwhelmed with Sutil. O.K. , he’s not been in the best car, But then neither has Vettel and I rate Seb V much more.
    Sutil has to start scoring points – and before Fisi does.
    Remember, there’s another driver waiting in the wings ready to jump in to car 21 (or 20)

  13. Nick is much better than sutil. Nick beats most of his team mates including two wdc’s, sutil cant even beat fisi.

  14. Manatcna on what basis do you rate Vettel higher than Sutil?
    We all know, it’s hard to compare drivers from different teams.
    In this case you could maybe take Liuzzi as guidline.
    Well last year Vettel was slower than Liuzzi and everybody who reads more than the final result table knows this.
    This year Liuzzi is the 3rd driver of Force India. If they would consider Sutil slower than Liuzzi they would have replaced him, no?

  15. Bbut
    I’m going on the only thing that matters – points won.
    Vettel 5 last year – against 3 for Liuzzi
    If Liuzzi was faster, why did he score fewer points?
    And, if I remember correctly the one point  Sutil scored was more or less gifted to him.
    Or am I wrong?

  16. "Or am I wrong?"

    I am sorry to say, but this this case yes, you are wrong!
    Judging drivers and especially those at the back of the grid only by their points is plainly stupid.

    Points are the modus that decides the winner of the championship. If this system would be to rate all drivers then it would reward every driver not just the first 8.

    In maybe 1 of 16 races a team like Force India has the realistic chance to score a point. And for that reason you want to throw away the other 15 results and than just look at this single race to rate the drivers?

    Again, this is just ridiculously stupid.

  17. Everyone is allowed an opinion, and that is yours. I still think Sutil is, at the best, an average driver.
    But time will tell.
    btw – the "Or am I wrong?" referred to the Sutil point.

    I mean no offence toward you personally, but if I have caused any, I apologise

  18. Yes Sutil, like any other F1 drivers, must have achieved success on their way up.  Otherwise they won’t get to F1.  To me, he’s occassionally quick, but my biggest impression of him is that he shunts or crash into others way too often. 

    If he keeps on doing that and only finishing races in unimpressive positions in uncompetitive cars, unless he brings in top sponsors, I guess his F1 days are numbered.  Perception is everything in F1 right?

  19. Type-R-Avatar
    26th March 2008, 8:37

    First of he is an musician and that puts him high in my book :D

    Secondly I believe that he has shown resilience against a very competitive grid and I would like to see him in a strong, nicely set-up, reliable car. He was unfortunate last week…

  20. Well, the fact is that Sutil is being trouced by Fisichella, who is an average guy ( he can win, but not that often as he proved at Renault )  like the likes of Barrichello or Coulthard or Trulli. And to be considered more highly he should already be on par, at least, with Fisi. Or either Sutil is walking throught a bad year, which he cannot afford or Liuzzi will take his place, or Sutil is revealing his quality next to the first reasonable teamate.
    Following the battles since the last Jordan year to now we will see that, perhaps, Fisi is the best driver they ever had since, well, Fisi! And that reveals the lack of quality drivers in that team!

  21. AmericanTifosi
    26th March 2008, 12:26

    Sutil may have a rubbish car but for a back marker driver I rate him pretty high. Unlike his former teammates and a few others I could name, he doen’t seem to cause stupid shunts. He is consistant as is possible for that car.

  22. I don’t think I’ll be in all that much better position to assess Adrian Sutil at the end of this year than I was at the end of 2007, since I think that Fisichella is seriously underrated at this time. At that point, I could see clear speed and definite room for improvement – but no clear idea as to where he was, let alone where he would go in future. About the only new thing I’ve discovered is that the Force India’s hydraulics system doesn’t seem to like him for some reason.

  23. to have force india without a indian pilot is ridiculous…sutil is not even close to karthikeyan in terms of speed. narain can take the bull by its horn and come in front of fisi each and every time… to not even have tried him for the race seat… its clear where mallya’s priority lie ….making money… he’s just playing with the sentiments of ppl here….

  24. Please Hoshiyar, stop talking along these lines. I am an Indian, and love F1 for all right reasons but I don’t tend to think this way. We Indians are known to always get charged up when something involving the country reaches our ears, I’ve seen countless powerpoint presentations listing how well the Indians have scored in international scene, how many Indians have been CEO’s of companies etc, but I think those are just being melodramatic or emotional charge instead of an inspirational one. Let me leave them there.
    Giving chances for Indian drivers should be a highly possible one for a team co-owned by an Indian, but that should never make it easy for a not so good driver (Narain) because one is an Indian, instead of aspiring good drivers and experienced good ones (Adrian and Fisi). For a season or two, VJ has to play safe and improve the team, get some points along the line. Talking patriotism or politics is not going to be good in F1, atleast not now with a countless allegations and scandles lowering it’s image.

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