The luckless Adrian Sutil vowed not to get disappointed after being removed from a points-paying position in the German Grand Prix at the weekend – as he admitted to enjoying his first experience of racing competitively inside the top ten in F1, and to wanting to repeat it as soon as Budapest next time out.
Having exploited the full potential of the ever-improving VJM02 and mastered the tricky conditions in qualifying to absolute perfection, Sutil began the race in front of his home fans at the Nürburgring a superb seventh. Though slipping back initially, the 26-year-old remained solidly inside the top ten, and rose as high as second, barely a second away from the lead, before making his first pit visit on lap 27.
Upon exiting the pit-lane again right in-between the Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen in sixth spot, however, disaster would strike, when he clashed with the latter in turn one, damaging his front wing endplate in the process and necessitating an extra pit-stop only a lap later that sent the man from Starnberg spiralling down the order and left him to take the chequered flag a lowly 15th.
The second time in as many years that Sutil's hopes of points have been dashed by the 2007 F1 World Champion – who similarly ran calamitously into him just a handful of laps from the end of the 2008 Monaco Grand Prix – the incident also marked the second time this year that the former F3 Euroseries Championship runner-up has been prevented from scoring when he had been in a strong position to do so, after the weather sent him helplessly and griplessly skating off-track from sixth position in the closing stages of the rain-lashed Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai back in April.
“We shouldn't be that disappointed with this result,” he insisted, refusing to allow himself to be downcast about the outcome, “as we have had a good weekend and the next one will come very soon. All our development shows we are on the right track and that we are much more competitive.
“It was a good race for me. The start was a bit difficult, but I lost just one position. In the first stint I did really well, and it was looking very promising as I was up to second by my first stop. When I went out of the pit-lane I saw Kimi coming on the outside of the corner and I just tried to hold my line, but he went to the outside and I touched him and lost part of my front wing. That's really when I thought the race was over for points, as I had to come back in.
“I kept pushing hard, though, as you never know what will happen. Overall, I think we've learnt a lot; it's the first time starting in the top ten and it's a different race up there! It's been a good push for everyone in the team to get some more development so we can finally get some points.”
At one stage team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella had looked like possibly being Force India's saviour in stepping into the breach and notching up the plucky Silverstone-based minnows' first point of the 2009 campaign, but despite a feisty and combative performance, ultimately the experienced Italian was forced to settle for eleventh spot at the close, passing the Williams of Kazuki Nakajima on the penultimate tour.
Having begun just 18th, a meteoric opening lap and brace of neat early passes on former Renault team-mate Fernando Alonso and the BMW-Sauber of Nick Heidfeld elevated the Roman to just outside of the top ten. Rejoining from his second and last stop in a similar position, the 36-year-old doggedly and determinedly hunted down the pack ahead of him comprised of Heikki Kovalainen, Timo Glock, Heidfeld and Nakajima, ultimately winding up less than four seconds shy of the final marker and just ten seconds ahead of the delayed Sutil.