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Monaco GP: Force India hoping to turn around Sutil’s fortune, aiming to score points

By Berthold Bouman

Monaco GP: Force India hoping to turn around Sutil’s fortune, aiming to score pointsLady Luck hasn’t been on Adrian Sutil’s side lately, as the German retired from two Grands Prix this season, and, to add to his misery, he also lost a lot of points due to several issues during pit stops. Force India is hoping to turn around the German’s back luck, and the Indian outfit is determined to finish both cars in the points this weekend.

Vijay Mallya: Adrian is mentally very strong

Team owner Vijay Mallya is determined to keep his fifth place in the Constructors’ Championship, as he likes to fight with the real big teams. “A strong points finish by Paul di Resta ensured we held on to fifth position in the World Championship, and we look capable of fighting at this level in the races to come. With a little help from Lady Luck, who hasn’t been much on Adrian Sutil’s side lately, we will be able to score points with both cars and firmly establish our position in the championship,” Mallya said ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix.

About Sutil’s bad luck in Spain Mallya commented, “He would have been on course for scoring some big points had it not been for the pit stop problem. His race pace was superb, but things are not going his way at the moment. The good news is that Adrian is mentally very strong and he will deal with it. In the cockpit he’s doing exactly what we expect and that’s why we put him in the car. With 14 races remaining there is plenty of opportunity for Adrian to get the results he deserves.”

Paul di Resta - Photo: Sahara Force India

Paul di Resta – Photo: Sahara Force India

Paul di Resta: Monaco was a rewarding race for us last year

Paul di Resta finished the Spanish Grand Prix in seventh place, and he is hoping new updates will make the Force India even faster. “Having more time to optimise the car with the upgrades should allow us to extract even more performance from it. Monaco was a rewarding race for us last year and we will try to go there and continue our run of points finishes,” di Resta said.

Asked whether it is possible to hang on to fifth place in the Constructors’ Championship, he commented, “McLaren is a strong team and they will keep improving, but in the races so far we have been fighting them and we’ve often been quicker. Realistically, though, we are doing a great job regularly beating our direct rivals — Sauber, Williams and Toro Rosso. Our strength has been our consistency — we have been performing well in each of the races so far, and we are now looking forward to the Sundays with confidence.”

Adrian Sutil - Photo: Sahara Force India

Adrian Sutil – Photo: Sahara Force India

Adrian Sutil: I believe we can improve certain things to avoid mistakes

Despite the problems, Sutil remains positive, and he is looking forward to the race in Monaco, “Most of the things that happened were out of my control, but still I believe we can improve certain things to avoid mistakes in the future. We as a team have to stay confident and work on solving these small problems. The car is fast and if we have a perfect weekend, which is our aim all the time, I’m sure the podium will come soon.”

Sutil loves the Monaco street track and said, “I’ve always liked street races and Monaco is the best street circuit of them all. There’s no room for even the smallest mistake and that’s why it’s different to other tracks. You have to give the walls so much respect and build up your speed. More than anything it’s a test of your mental strength because you keep your concentration for nearly two hours during the race.”

Force India is currently fifth in the Constructors’ Championship with 32 points, but McLaren is right on their tail and are sixth with 29 points. Paul di Resta is eighth in the Drivers’ Championship, while Sutil, due to his bad luck, is 13th.

Also read:

• Red Bull Monaco GP Preview
• Ferrari Monaco GP Preview
McLaren Monaco GP Preview
• Lotus Monaco GP Preview
Mercedes Monaco GP Preview
Sauber Monaco GP Preview
Force India Monaco GP Preview
Williams Monaco GP Preview
• Toro Rosso Monaco GP Preview
Caterham Monaco GP Preview
Marussia Monaco GP Preview

Spanish GP: Force India wants to keep fighting with the big teams

By Berthold Bouman

Spanish GP: Force India wants to keep fighting with the big teamsForce India are pleased with the best season start they ever had, as they have scored nine points more than last year. But there is no time to rest on their laurels, and the Indian outfit run by Indian entrepreneur Vijay Mallya is determined to keep fighting with the big teams.

Vijay Mallya: We intend to hold our ground

Team owner Mallya commented ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix, “At both the factory and at the track, everyone is working hard to ensure we can build on these good results. We intend to hold our ground and remain in the hunt for points and podiums.”

He was especially satisfied with the results of drivers Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil, “The performances of di Resta confirm just how much he has matured as a driver. He’s delivering consistently every week and we are reaping the rewards of all his hard work.”

About Sutil he said, “Sutil has also shown his speed so far but the luck has not gone his way. The last two races have been very frustrating because he’s been the victim of other drivers’ mistakes. His race pace in Bahrain was remarkable because he was one of the fastest cars on track.”

Force India wants to keep fighting with the big teams - Photo: Sahara Force India

Force India wants to keep fighting with the big teams – Photo: Sahara Force India

Paul di Resta: Hopefully we can stay fighting with the big teams

Di Resta was pleased with the results so far and said, “It’s important to pick up good points early in the season against our competitors and to be ahead of McLaren after four races is a credit to the team and a nice feeling. Of course we want to be on the podium and it was very close in Bahrain, but I’m sure it will come soon enough.”

About the challenge facing him this weekend he said, “The key is making sure you find the right operating window whatever the conditions because that’s what makes the difference. We need to keep doing what we’re doing, but at the same time we know the return to Europe always sees every team bring more upgrades. Hopefully we can stay fighting with the big teams and keep picking up the points.”

Adrian Sutil - Photo: Sahara Force India

Adrian Sutil – Photo: Sahara Force India

Adrian Sutil: I definitely missed out on a few good points

Indeed, Sutil was in the wrong place at the wrong time, how does he feel about that? I’ve been unlucky with being hit in China and the puncture in Bahrain, and I definitely missed out on a few good points. These things happen all the time in Formula One — sometimes you benefit from them and sometimes it goes against you instead,“ the German said.

But it is time to score good points at the Barcelona circuit, and Sutil commented, “It is important, after three difficult races without points, to finish the race without any incidents. If I do that, I should have the pace to be among the front-runners. I have to do my job, avoid mistakes and hopefully my luck will change.”

Force India is currently fifth in the Constructors’ Championship, three points ahead of McLaren. Di Resta is eighth in the Drivers’ Championship, while Sutil is 12th.

Also read:

Red Bull Spanish GP Preview
Ferrari Spanish GP Preview
McLaren Spanish GP Preview
Lotus Spanish GP Preview
Mercedes Spanish GP Preview
Sauber Spanish GP Preview
Force India Spanish GP Preview
Williams Spanish GP Preview
• Toro Rosso Spanish GP Preview
Caterham Spanish GP Preview
Marussia Spanish GP Preview

Bahrain GP: Force India hopes to exploit its full potential at Sakhir

By Berthold Bouman

Bahrain GP: Force India hopes to exploit its full potential at SakhirThe Chinese Grand Prix was partially a disaster for Force India, as Adrian Sutil had to retire after Esteban Gutierrez crashed his Sauber into the back of his car, but Paul di Resta managed to score four points by finishing in eighth place.

Vijay Mallya: Last year we had an excellent result

Team owner Vijay Mallya left China with mixed feelings, and he commented, “The pace of the VJM06 was evident throughout the sessions and we would have been on track to place both Paul and Adrian in the points had it not been for the unfortunate accident with Gutierrez in the opening stages.”

He also praised the pit crew, “We were also very satisfied by the good job done in the pits with a clean and fast final stop helping Paul emerge ahead of Romain Grosjean and Nico Hulkenberg after a race-long battle.”

The Indian is hoping for a bit more luck this weekend, “This track, with its high temperature and smooth surface, has generally suited our car and we hope this will be the case this weekend. With a bit more luck, we will be able to fully exploit the potential of our car and get some more points on the board before the European leg of the season.”

Four points for di Resta in China - Photo: Sahara Force India

Four points for Paul di Resta in China – Photo: Sahara Force India

Paul di Resta: There is more potential to come

About the race in China the Scot said, “I was stuck in traffic, my tyres were graining and I couldn’t move forward. Fortunately we got ourselves into some clean air after my second pit stop and I think we showed that the potential of the car is very strong. In the end we left China feeling pretty satisfied, knowing that there is more potential to come.”

Di Resta is really looking forward to this weekend, as he thinks the car will be strong there. “We’re back in the hot weather and we were strong in the heat of Malaysia so there are no real worries. Last year the car worked well in Bahrain, which gives us confidence heading into the weekend. We’re back to the medium and hard [tyres], the same as we had in Malaysia, where we were strong.”

Sutil's race was over quickly last weekend - Photo: Sahara Force India

Sutil’s race was over quickly last weekend – Photo: Sahara Force India

Adrian Sutil: You need a strong car on the brakes

Sutil, who also collided with his team colleague di Resta before he was forced into retirement by Gutierrez, has no hard feelings. “I had a little incident with Paul early on, but we spoke about it, and there’s no problem. Gutierrez just missed his braking point and crashed into my rear. It’s frustrating, but what can you do? He will learn so there are no hard feelings. Hopefully he will not do it again.”

Asked whether Sakhir is a track he enjoys he answered, “With a good car I like almost every circuit. The track is not one of the most difficult ones, but it has a lot of big braking points, so you need a strong car on the brakes. The heat is very different to China, with very high temperatures, and also there’s a different combination of tyres. It should be better for us there!”

Force India is currently sixth in the Constructors’ Championship, di Resta is tenth. and Sutil 12th in the Drivers’ Championship.

Also read:

Red Bull Bahrain GP Preview
Ferrari Bahrain GP Preview
McLaren Bahrain GP Preview
Lotus Bahrain GP Preview
Mercedes Bahrain GP Preview
Sauber Bahrain GP Preview
Force India Bahrain GP Preview
Williams Bahrain GP Preview
• Toro Rosso Bahrain GP Preview
Caterham Bahrain GP Preview
Marussia Bahrain GP Preview

Chinese GP: Force India confident ahead of Shanghai race, wheel nut problem solved

By Berthold Bouman

Chinese GP: Force India confident ahead of Shanghai race, wheel nut problem solved - Photo: Sahara Force IndiaAhead of round three of the 2013 FIA Formula One World Championship, Force India is adamant that they have solved the problems with the wheel nuts, which caused the retirement of both cars during the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Vijay Mallya: The VJM06 is a solid contender

Despite the disaster in Malaysia, Team Principal Vijay Mallya is upbeat ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix, “The first two races of 2013 have been an encouraging start to the season. The VJM06 is a solid contender with competitive race pace; we have an excellent pair of drivers and the right technical package in place. Most importantly, the whole team is working together well.”

Asked about the problems with the wheel nuts the Indian said, “We’ve had three weeks to understand what went wrong and have worked hard to fix the root cause of the problem.”

Wheel nut problems have been solved - Photo: Sahara Force India

Wheel nut problems have been solved – Photo: Sahara Force India

Mallya is confident they will do well the next two races and he commented, “The next two weekends, with races in China and Bahrain, will put us in a position to see where we really stand in comparison with our rivals. Everyone in the team is looking forward to this challenge and I am confident we will put the disappointment of Malaysia behind us and bring home some big points.”

Paul di Resta: We appear to be in a good position at the moment

Scotsman Paul di Resta is looking forward to the race in Shanghai and commented, “We were unlucky not to get any points in Malaysia, but we can take some positives from the performance we showed on the track. We looked to be one of the fastest cars during the early part of the race. It’s a good sign for the rest of the season.”

Di Resta aims to score points this weekend, but despite the encouraging pace of the VJM06, he thinks it is critical to keep developing the car and he remarked, “It is important not to get carried away and to keep doing our job at each race. We appear to be in a good position at the moment, but no one can say where we will be compared to our rivals after the next two races.”

Adrian Sutil - Photo: Sahara Force India

Adrian Sutil – Photo: Sahara Force India

Adrian Sutil: We need to focus on the performance

Also Adrian Sutil retired from the Malaysian Grand Prix, and he said, “I was running in eighth position before my first stop, but that’s when things started to go wrong in the pits. It’s a shame we had the problem because the car felt very strong, but sometimes these things happen. Now we need to focus on the performance to try and repeat it in China.”

He too, believes the development of the car is the key to success, “We know there are lots of areas where we can improve because we have learned a lot from the first couple of races. The other teams will not stand still so we need to keep pushing hard and keep up this momentum.”

The German pins his hopes on the tyres and said, “We will have a new tyre combination in China — the soft and the medium — and we appear to be quite good at managing our tyres so we need to use that to our advantage.”

Force India is currently fifth in the Constructors’ Championship with 10 points, while Sutil and di Resta are in ninth and tenth place of the Drivers’ Championship.

Also read:

Red Bull Chinese GP Preview
• Ferrari Chinese GP Preview
McLaren Chinese GP Preview
Lotus Chinese GP Preview
Mercedes Chinese GP Preview
Sauber Chinese GP Preview
Force India Chinese GP Preview
Williams Chinese GP Preview
• Toro Rosso Chinese GP Preview
Caterham Chinese GP Preview
Marussia Chinese GP Preview

Malaysian GP: Vettel tops final practice session at Sepang, Hamilton second

By Berthold Bouman

Malaysian GP: Vettel tops final practice session at Sepang, Hamilton secondTriple World Champion Sebastian Vettel was quickest during the third and final practice session for the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang International circuit this morning. The German set a time of 1m36.435s, and was followed by Lewis Hamilton who took second place for Mercedes, while Nico Rosberg was ninth in the second Mercedes.

Adrian Sutil again demonstrated the raw speed of the Force India VJM06, the German was only 0.153s slower than pace-setter Vettel, while Mark Webber in the second Red Bull was fourth.

Kimi Raikkonen was fifth in the Lotus, after completing 19 laps on the Sepang circuit. Romain Grosjean was struggling with his Lotus E21, and didn’t get any further than 14th place this morning.

Sutil again very fast for Force India - Photo: Sahara Force India

Sutil again very fast for Force India – Photo: Sahara Force India

Paul di Resta has problems keeping up with team colleague Sutil, he was sixth fastest, but it seems Sutil feels much more comfortable in the Force India than de Scotsman.

Some improvement for McLaren this morning, Jenson Button was seventh, but almost four-tenths of a second off the pace, while Sergio Perez was 12th, almost a second slower than Vettel. McLaren are still working hard to improve the MP4-28, but due to the changing weather conditions the engineers are struggling to understand the car and its dynamics.

Felipe Massa was the fastest Ferrari driver and took eighth place, beating Fernando Alonso who was tenth this morning. Williams are also still struggling to come to grips with the FW35, a little improvement today as Pastor Maldonado was 11th, while Valtteri Bottas was 15th with a lap of 1m39.736s, almost 1.5s slower than the leading Red Bull.

Nico Hulkenberg - Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Nico Hulkenberg – Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Sauber are not as fast as they were at the start of 2012, and Nico Hulkenberg was 13th, and his Mexican team colleague Esteban Gutierrez was 16th.

The Toro Rosso duo Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Riccardo took possession of 17th and 18th places this morning. Charles Pic, Jules Bianchi, Giedo van der Garde and Max Chilton completed the list of 22 drivers this morning.

All Formula One results can be found in the menu of the F1 2013 Season > Malaysian GP, together with links to the practice, qualifying and race reports.

Malaysian GP Results

Malaysian GP: Force India aiming to race against the established front-runners

By Berthold Bouman

Malaysian GP: Force India aiming to race against the established front-runners - Photo: Sahara Force IndiaA great result for Force India last weekend, returnee Adrian Sutil fought with the front-runners while leading the race, but as his super soft tyres wore out more quickly than expected, Sutil had to settle for seventh place, but Force India have shown that they are right on  pace at the start of the season, and are of course hoping for more.

Team Principal and Team Owner Vijay Mallya: We must keep progressing

“Last weekend’s race in Melbourne was a great demonstration of how far the team has come lately: to race against the established front-runners on merit shows the quality of our car, of our driver line-up and of the work everyone in the team is producing every day, whether at the factory or at the circuit,” Team Principal Vijay Mallya said.

And the Indian entrepreneur added, “With improved results come increased responsibilities: the whole world of Formula One — our rivals, the media and the fans — now look at Sahara Force India as a competitor for points at every race. It is our duty to sustain this scrutiny by going out every day and performing to our best to keep challenging the top teams in the world.”

Great result for Force India in Australia - Photo: Sahara Force India

Great result for Force India in Australia – Photo: Sahara Force India

But he also issued a warning and said, “The 2013 Championship is just at the beginning, and it is important not to get carried away with enthusiasm: we will need to channel this positive energy into consistently good performances and continue to improve. We are on a good road, and we must all keep progressing.”

Adrian Sutil: If you don’t believe you can win, you’ll never win

German Adrian Sutil was without a doubt the star of the Australian Grand Prix, and asked how it felt to battle with the big teams he said, “We never expected to be leading for such a long time. It was a surprise for everyone and even more of a surprise that we could keep all the cars behind us while doing really competitive lap times. I actually pulled away from Vettel at one stage in the race. I knew the car was fast, I felt good, I felt confident.”

He also feels confident he can be at the front again this weekend, and said, “There are opportunities, and if you believe in it, you can take those chances. If you don’t believe you can win, you will never win. It’s just an approach, I think. It’s important to set your mind. It’s sometimes hard because we are usually in the midfield, but you should always think a step further.”

Paul di Resta: You never know what to expect!

Scotsman Paul di Resta finished eighth in Australia, just three seconds behind Sutil, and thus also bagged his first points of the season. But there’s always room for improvements, di Resta reckons. “We’ve got some things we need to pick up on and we can definitely make some improvements, but we’re in a good place to start the season. Also, we’ve seen already that we can make a stop less than some of our competitors so let’s see if that remains the case in Malaysia.”

About the challenges of the Sepang International Circuit he commented, “You never know what to expect! It could rain, or it could be dry. Temperatures are going to be high, degradation is going to be high, but I think our car is going to suit the warm weather. We’ve had a reasonably strong performance for the last couple of years in Malaysia, so I think we should go there feeling quite optimistic. We have a few days to conquer the jet lag and hopefully be fighting fit.”

Also read:

Red Bull Malaysian GP Preview
Ferrari Malaysian GP Preview
McLaren Malaysian GP Preview
Lotus Malaysian GP Preview
Mercedes Malaysian GP Preview
Sauber Malaysian GP Preview
Force India Malaysian GP Preview
Williams Malaysian GP Preview
• Toro Rosso Malaysian GP Preview
Caterham Malaysian GP Preview
Marussia Malaysian GP Preview

Australian GP: Force India aims to perform well and score points in Melbourne

By Berthold Bouman

Australian GP Force India aims to perform well and score points in Melbourne - Photo: Force IndiaForce India aims to score points during the opening race of the 2013 FIA Formula One World Championship, the Australian Grand Prix at the Albert Park Circuit near Melbourne. Force India is pleased to welcome Adrian Sutil back to the team, and were impressed by his pace during testing.

Team Principal Vijay Mallya: VJM06 has shown excellent reliability

It has taken a while, but Team Principal and Team Owner Vijay Mallya decided to take Sutil back. “Over the winter we thought long and hard about the decision, but I’m sure we have made the right choice. Adrian is very quick and has a great history with the team — he has been with us from the very start and is truly part of the family. Everyone was impressed by his performance during winter testing in Barcelona: he was able to deliver great pace right away.”

About the first race of the season Mallya commented, “The VJM06 has shown excellent reliability in winter testing. The rules haven’t changed much from 2012 and everyone in the team is confident we can pick up where we left off at the end of last season. The first race of the season on a track like Melbourne is always a lottery; if any of the front-runners stumble, we will be ready to pounce.”

Adrian Sutil rejoined Force India again - Photo: Sahara Force India

Adrian Sutil rejoined Force India again – Photo: Sahara Force India

Paul di Resta: Consistency will be very important this year

It will be Paul di Resta’s third season with Force India, and the Scotsman has spent the winter preparing himself for the first race of the season. “I’ve got the same team around me so I think that consistency will be very important this year,” he said.

Like most drivers, di Resta thinks the new Pirellis will play an important role this season, as most teams are struggling to get to grips with the new rubber compounds. “Pirelli have kept us busy with their new 2013 compounds, which appear to be more aggressive than last year. We have stability in the technical office, which helps, and we’ve tried to build more consistency into the car.”

He didn’t want to make any predictions about the strength of Force India’s opponents, but remarked, “We’re as well prepared as we can be, but the first two races in Australia and Malaysia are two of the toughest of the year. The grid seems very closely matched so it’s going to be interesting to see how things shake out in Melbourne.”

Adrian Sutil: This team still feels like ‘home’

Sutil is of course happy to be back with his old team, and the German said, “I am working with my old race engineer [Brad Joyce] and this team still feels like ‘home’. It’s a new beginning; my second chance in Formula One and I intend to make the most of this opportunity.”

Asked which targets he has in mind for this weekend he commented, “It’s difficult to set a goal for this weekend, but my target for the season is to improve on my 2011 performance and aim for some podiums. So we need to start the year well, aim high and take our chances.”

Like his team mate, Sutil is pleased with the handling of the new car, but reckons the tyres are the unknown factor, “I’ve only spent three days in the car during testing, but already I’m feeling very comfortable. It’s very driveable and the balance is good. There is still a lot I need to understand, especially in terms of the tyres, but we’re in a good place already.”

Also read:

Red Bull Australian GP Preview
Ferrari Australian GP Preview
McLaren Australian GP Preview
Lotus Australian GP Preview
Mercedes Australian GP Preview
Sauber Australian GP Preview
Force India Australian GP Preview
Williams Australian GP Preview
• Toro Rosso Australian GP Preview
Caterham Australian GP Preview
Marussia Australian GP Preview

Hamilton on top for Mercedes on penultimate day of Barcelona testing

By Berthold Bouman

Hamilton on top for Mercedes on penultimate day of Barcelona testing - Photo: Mercedes-BenzLewis Hamilton set the fastest time on the penultimate day of pre-season testing at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain today, the Mercedes driver set a time of 1m20.558s, the fastest time of the week, thanks to a dry and sunny Barcelona circuit.

Hamilton was pleased to finally be able to test on a dry track today, and he commented after his final day of testing, “The reliability, the mileage and the step-by-step improvements that we have achieved during the three tests are all very encouraging. Whilst we’ve been focusing on our own performance, we definitely haven’t seen the full potential of our competitors yet, so it’s difficult to predict where we might be.”

Felipe Massa was second fastest today for Ferrari, but seven-tenths of a second slower than Hamilton. In the morning Ferrari tested ‘aerodynamic components over short distances’, and in the afternoon Massa practiced pit stops, but the day came to a premature end after a ‘problem with the left front upright’, as Ferrari described it.

Felipe Massa was second-fastest today at Barcelona - Photo: Ferrari

Felipe Massa was second-fastest today at Barcelona – Photo: Ferrari

Adrian Sutil was again in the Force India VJM06 and took possession of third place, but he was a full second slower than the pace-setter. Thanks to the weather gods, Force India was able to carry out their complete test programme to prepare for the first race of the season in two weeks time.

Sutil said, “There was a lot of pit stop practice throughout the day and it’s good that we managed to do a race distance without any disruptions. It was less windy today, which made things easier, and the higher temperatures helped give us ideal testing conditions for understanding the tyres and the degradation.”

Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas shared testing duties for Williams today, Maldonado finished in fourth, and Bottas in fifth place today. Williams were one of the teams who already tested an upgrade package for Melbourne and Technical Director Mike Coughlan said, “We brought our updated core bodywork for the first race here this weekend.”

“Pastor spent the morning doing system checks with it before Valtteri went through new sets of each compound tyre this afternoon. Tomorrow we aim to do more performance runs with some further upgrades ahead of Australia.”

Esteban Gutierrez was again fast in the new Sauber, he recorded a time of 1m22.533s after completing 99 laps, good for sixth place on today’s time sheets. He, too, was happy with the sunny weather today in Spain, Sauber did a qualifying and race simulation today.

“It gave me the opportunity to see how the car feels in qualifying and race conditions. The understanding of the tyres was a very important point, especially here in Barcelona where we know graining of the front tyres is a big issue. However, we were able to manage the degradation of the tyres quite well,” Gutierrez later commented.

Mark Webber - Photo: Red Bull Racing

Mark Webber – Photo: Red Bull Racing

Mark Webber was only 0.105s slower than the Mexican in the Red Bull RB9, and he said, “We had a few small issues with the car today which delayed us a couple of times and while it wasn’t ideal I think we still learned plenty.”

“In terms of the overall feeling at the end of my spell of testing, I think we’ve done well and we have made a step forward. As I’ve said before it’s very difficult to see a real pecking order. We’ve just always been focused on what we have to do and not really looked too hard at anyone else.”

Again, a bit further down the order, was Sergio Perez who took over from Jenson Button for McLaren today, a bit of a disappointment as the second Mexican driver in Formula One was over two seconds slower than Hamilton. As usual, no official comments from the McLaren drivers, the team reported in a press release they tested ‘different mechanical set-ups’ in the morning, and did ‘long runs’ and ‘live pit stop practice’ in the afternoon.

Jean-Eric Vergne was in the car for Toro Rosso today, he was ninth after completing 114 laps, Toro Rosso also did qualifying and race simulations today. “We can ignore the lap times, because, unlike some other teams we did not do a qualifying simulation. However, our race simulation this afternoon went well,” said Vergne.

Some extra time in the car for Romain Grosjean, as Kimi Raikkonen called in sick today. The Frenchman was tenth, just a few thousandths of a second faster than Lotus reserve driver Davide Valsecchi, who also got an unexpected opportunity due to Raikkonen’s illness, who reportedly suffered from a food poisoning.

Iceman Raikkonen called in sick today - Photo: Lotus F1

Iceman Raikkonen called in sick today – Photo: Lotus F1

Lotus also tested new parts for Melbourne and Director of Trackside Operations Alain Permane reported, “Despite the disrupted running, we still completed a Grand Prix distance worth of laps and were able to put valuable miles on our latest rear wing concept as well as evaluating a new front wing. Both look to be a step in the right direction so it’s likely we’ll use them in Australia.”

Jules Bianchi, who joined the Marussia team yesterday after Luiz Razia was ousted, was in the MR02 for the first time, but was at least faster than, also rookie, Giedo van der Garde, who was 13th and last today for Caterham.

Van der Garde, who put 126 laps on the board today, commented about his last test day, “We took full advantage of the weather today, running through the final tyre and setup evaluations this morning and then running a full race simulation after lunch. We only had one minor issue with the car this morning, but apart from that it ran well all day and it was good to get a full race distance done, both for me and the whole team.”

Barcelona testing Day 3 – March 2

Pos  Driver                Team          Time       Gap       Laps  
  1.  Lewis Hamilton        Mercedes      1m20.558             117     
  2.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari       1m21.266   + 0.708    94      
  3.  Adrian Sutil          Force India   1m21.627   + 1.069   109     
  4.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams      1m22.305   + 1.747    34      
  5.  Valtteri Bottas       Williams      1m22.468   + 1.910    31      
  6.  Esteban Gutierrez     Sauber        1m22.553   + 1.995    99      
  7.  Mark Webber           Red Bull      1m22.658   + 2.100    59      
  8.  Sergio Perez          McLaren       1m22.694   + 2.136   101     
  9.  Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso    1m23.223   + 2.665   114     
 10.  Romain Grosjean       Lotus         1m23.380   + 2.822    46      
 11.  Davide Valsecchi      Lotus         1m23.448   + 2.890    16      
 12.  Jules Bianchi         Marussia      1m24.028   + 3.470    74      
 13.  Giedo van der Garde   Caterham      1m24.235   + 3.677   126

Adrian Sutil rejoins Force India team to complete 2013 line-up

By Berthold Bouman

Adrian Sutil rejoins Force India team to complete 2013 line-up - Photo: Force IndiaAdrian Sutil rejoins Force India to complete the team’s 2013 driver line-up, Sutil was ousted from the same team in 2011 after the German driver was convicted for assaulting Genii Capital CEO Eric Lux in a bar in Shanghai following the 2011 Chinese Grand Prix. Sutil received an 18-month suspended prison sentence and had to pay a 200,000 Euro fine.

Sutil and Force India’s reserve driver Jules Bianchi diced for the last available 2013 Formula One race seat last week during testing in Barcelona, today it was announced Sutil will join Paul di Resta to complete Force India’s 2013 driver line-up.

Sutil, who drove for Force India since 2007, then known as the Spyker Formula One team, until 2011, does know the team very well and was of course pleased to make a return to the sport.

“I’m delighted to be back in Formula One, especially with a team I know so well. I’m very happy and I want to thank Sahara Force India for giving me a second chance. Having been away from the sport, I’m even more determined to achieve my goals in Formula One” said the 30-year old driver in a statement today.

Sutil back at Force India - Photo: Force India

Sutil back at Force India – Photo: Force India

About his test last week he said, “Things went really well at the Barcelona test last week and it almost feels as though I’ve never been away. Driving the car felt so natural and I was able to get back in the groove quickly and find the limit.” And he added, “Now my focus is on making the most of the final test session this week, working with the team in the simulator and getting myself in the best possible shape for Melbourne.”

Team owner Vijay Mallya acknowledged it had not been an easy decision. “The decision over our driver line-up has not been an easy one and we have given it great consideration over the last few months. It was a close call, but ultimately we felt that Adrian’s experience and historic links to the team gave him the edge, and will provide us with the best possible chance of realising our ambitions for the coming season,” said the Indian.

He’s also adamant Sutil is the right man for the job, “If he can rediscover the exceptional form he showed in the second half of 2011, I’m confident that we can pick up where we left off at the end of 2012. As for Jules Bianchi, he has impressed us enormously with his speed and work ethic, and I’m hopeful we can continue working with him this year to help him develop into a future Grand Prix driver.”

Sutil will be driving the Force India VJM06 on Saturday and Sunday this week during the last pre-season testing days at the circuit de Catalunya. The Formula One season will officially kick off on March 17 in Melbourne, Australia.

Formula One teams ready for second pre-season test at Barcelona

By Berthold Bouman

Formula One teams ready for second pre-season test at Barcelona - Photo: McLarenTomorrow pre-season testing will resume at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain, it’s the second pre-season test and teams will test their cars, drivers, and even more important, the new 2013-spec Pirelli tyres for four days. An important test, as there is only one month left before the 2013 season kicks off in Melbourne, Australia, on March 17.

Adrian Sutil to return to Force India?

Force India is the only team who still have to announce their second driver, there are plenty of drivers in the race for the last available Formula One race seat. One candidate is Adrian Sutil who was ousted by the Indian team after he had assaulted Lotus CEO Eric Lux in 2011. It might be the last chance for Sutil to return to Formula One.

There have been reports the German had a seat fitting last week, and rumours say he will be testing the VJM06 in Barcelona. A spokesman said about the seat fitting, “At this stage, the test driving schedule for the Barcelona test is not finalized but there is a possibility Adrian could be involved. The driving schedule will be communicated on Monday next week.”

Sutil’s manager, Manfred Zimmermann, is adamant Sutil still has a chance, “We’re convinced it will work out. But unfortunately we have to be patient and keep our fingers crossed.”

Adrian Sutil to return to Force India? - Photo: Force India

Adrian Sutil to return to Force India? – Photo: Force India

Alonso ready to test Ferrari F138

Tomorrow will be the first time Fernando Alonso will drive the Ferrari F138, as he chose to work to improve his physical condition with gym sessions, running and biking. So far, Felipe Massa and Pedro de la Rosa have done the development work on the F138, both were positive and claim the car is a lot faster than the 2012 car was during testing.

In Barcelona Ferrari hopes to get a better idea about how the car performs at a Grand Prix circuit, and the Maranello-based team is looking forward to test the Pirellis on a track surface that is more ‘representative of what lies ahead in terms of degradation and pace’.

Fernando Alonso ready for his first taste of the F138 - Photo: Ferrari

Fernando Alonso ready for his first taste of the F138 – Photo: Ferrari

Williams to launch 2013 contender at Barcelona

Williams is the only team who still have to reveal their new car, they will present the Williams FW35 tomorrow in the pit lane of the Circuit de Catalunya. So far, Williams have used the 2012 car to test the components for the FW35, it is unknown why they postponed the launch of their new car, perhaps it wasn’t finished yet, or maybe Technical Director Mike Coughlan first wanted to snoop around the Jerez pit lane to see what the competition has come up with.

Pirelli in the spotlight

Most teams are eager to test the new Pirelli tyres, according to the Italian tyre manufacturer, 35 sets of all four rubber compounds are available for each car. Each team is allowed to use a maximum of 100 sets of tyres per car during the testing season, for Barcelona Pirelli will pick 20 sets, while teams are free to pick another 15 sets of the compounds they would like to test extra.

Pirelli Motorsport Director Paul Hembery commented about the test venue, “Barcelona is a circuit that the teams have plenty of data on already, which is useful for comparison purposes. So it should be possible for them to carry out plenty of productive work to help understand how their new cars interact with our latest generation of tyres, which are generally softer and faster than last year with deliberately increased degradation.”

And he added, “The limiting factor at the opening test in Jerez earlier this month was the abrasiveness of the track, so hopefully conditions will be more representative this time. There is always the potential for low ambient temperatures though: last year, we actually saw some ice on the track in the morning.”

Barcelona is an extremely demanding circuit for the tyres, in particular the left-front tyre is subjected to extreme forces, as the 4.655 km long circuit has mostly right-hand corners. Last year the fastest time (1m22.312) was set on the fourth day on the soft tyres, but whether the record can be broken of course depends on the weather conditions and ambient temperatures.

Adrian Sutil’s return to Formula One still uncertain

By Berthold Bouman

Adrian Sutil’s return to Formula One still uncertainEx-Force India driver Adrian Sutil is working on a return to Formula One, after being ousted by the Indian team at the end of 2011. Sutil was dropped by his team after he had been accused of assaulting Lotus’ Eric Lux in a Shanghai nightclub during the 2011 Chinese Grand Prix.

After a court case, where the German was handed a suspended 18-month jail term and a 200,000 Euro fine, the 29-year old driver claims his problems have been solved now and he is free to travel to all countries on the 2013 calendar, including China.

Sutil was at the ROC event in Bangkok last weekend as commentator for German television and said, “We checked of course, me and my management; we checked all the countries and there’s no problem for me to travel, so that’s why I’m also here in Bangkok without any trouble!” And he added, “All the problems I had last winter are solved, it’s a new beginning.”

Sutil’s manager Manfred Zimmermann recently revealed he is in talks with Force India, and Sutil has pinned his hopes on returning to his old team, but also Jules Bianchi, Kamui Kobayashi, Jaime Alguersuari and Bruno Senna are interested to race alongside Paul di Resta in 2013.

Adrian Sutil, Force India - Photo: Wikimedia

Adrian Sutil was ousted by Force India in 2011 after a fight with Eric Lux

His career is in the hands of Force India team boss and team owner Vijay Mallya. “They know who I am, they know how to work with me so in the last five years we’ve got a lot of experience. There’s nothing too much to say, it’s all up to Vijay; it’s Vijay’s decision and hopefully he will make the right one so that I am in the car,” Sutil said in Bangkok.

And he further commented, “It’s hard, what can I do? Five years I was in this team so they know how good I am, they know my qualities, so I’m not the one who has gone to this team and said ‘please, please give me the drive’, I think they also should come to me and say “Yes, we want you” and that’s a good base.”

“So I want to drive for this team but they should also want me as a driver, so that’s why I’m quite relaxed. I know how to handle this situation; I did the maximum I could do at the moment and now it’s all up to them to decide if I’m in the seat or not.”

Sutil started his Formula One career with the Dutch Spyker Formula One team in 2007, he stayed when Mallya bought the team in 2008 but was ousted at the end of 2011 due to the Shanghai nightclub incident.

Massa confident he has still has Ferrari’s backing

By Berthold Bouman

Ferrari this week once more warned Felipe Massa he should raise his game as the Reds need a second driver to score points for the Constructors’ Championship, and Massa has obviously not been very helpful because he only has scored two points during the first five Grands Prix of the season.

Felipe Massa, Ferrari

While his team mate Fernando Alonso has taken second place in the Drivers’ Championship and also won the Malaysian Grand Prix, Massa is in 17th place with the two points he scored in Bahrain. In a Ferrari press release this week the team from Maranello makes no bones about it, Massa must make ‘a change of gear’ starting with the Monaco Grand Prix.

But as usual, Massa claims in a by Ferrari conducted interview he still has the support of his Italian friends. Asked whether Ferrari still has faith in him he replied, “I feel the whole team stands by me. Obviously, they are not happy with the results and neither am I: we all want is to get out of this and return to normal. It’s possible and for sure it’s what I want and I know that with the team’s help we will manage it.”

It is true though, Ferrari’s F2012 contender is a difficult car to drive to say the least, and especially Massa has been struggling to extract the right speed from the new car. So, what is the problem with the car?

“It’s definitely not a very easy car to drive and it’s hard to find a good balance. Many times I have found myself having to fight the car and, in these circumstances it’s easy to lose a tenth here and there; with my driving style maybe I struggle a bit more, because I don’t manage to find a smooth way of driving,” Massa remarked.

The latest updates have certainly made the car faster Massa admitted, “In Spain, we made a significant improvement, which could clearly be seen from Fernando’s performance in the race, but I too, when I had a clear track ahead of me, had a good pace.”

Of course people always have linked his far under par performance to his near fatal accident in Hungary in 2009, but Massa is adamant he hasn’t become slower as a result of it. “All the doctors I consulted are prepared to swear hand on heart that there are absolutely no traces of the impact with the spring. As for myself, I don’t feel in any way different to the way I was before that weekend,” he commented.

Meanwhile, others are already trying to answer the question who will replace Massa, as they are convinced it is just a matter of time before he will lose his seat, and many believe he will lose it before the end of the season. Jaime Alguersuari, ousted by Toro Rosso and without a doubt someone who would love to take over Massa’s now hot seat, said, “At this point, only a miracle will keep Massa at Ferrari.”

Of course there is the young and promising Frenchman Jules Bianchi, already being groomed by Ferrari and temporarily parked at Force India as test and reserve driver, but he would be too inexperienced to replace Massa this season, Ferrari needs points for the Constructors’ Championship so they need an experienced driver.

The drivers Ferrari really would like to have, Perez, Kobayashi and Webber are not available at this moment. Swapping Massa with Perez or Kobayashi could be an option as Massa has already been driving for Sauber at the start of his career so he would feel at home at the Swiss team, but it is highly unlikely Peter Sauber would let one of his star drivers go as he needs them himself to score points for the Constructors’ Championship.

Also the name of Adrian Sutil has been mentioned, he could go directly to Ferrari, or replace one of the two current Force India drivers, Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg, if one of them would go to Ferrari. Another contender is Jerome d’Ambrosio who is currently Lotus’ test and reserve driver, and there’s of course a whole bunch of drivers waiting in the wings to replace Massa; after all, who doesn’t want to drive for Ferrari, the greatest Formula One team of all times?