Adrian Sutil admits he needed a points finish at Sepang after a difficult start to the 2010 F1 season.
Despite qualifying inside the top ten in both Bahrain and Australia, Sutil arrived in Malaysia having failed to score, with an opening lap incident in the season-opener leaving him down in twelfth place and an engine issue putting him out at Albert Park.
However, Sutil was able to break into the points for the first time at Sepang as he qualified fourth and secured fifth at the flag – holding off the challenge of Lewis Hamilton through the closing stages of the race.
“I needed that finish,” Sutil told the official F1 website. “Having been so competitive at the first race and left the track empty handed was hard to take, especially when it looked like it would stay the same. I needed and I wanted that result. I had a very good weekend. Everything went right this time in qualifying and in the race. The team did a brilliant job and I think that we can all be very proud of it.
“Over the 20 laps when I was fighting over P5 with Lewis; that was really exciting. The beginning was rather odd because there was nobody behind me and in front there was Robert Kubica and I couldn't really keep up with him. In the second stint I was able to get a bit closer to him, but there was really no way of catching up with him as my guess is he was about one-tenth faster per lap.
“It became a real race when Lewis showed up behind me. At the time the car was really good, and as I didn't make any mistakes, there wasn't a chance for him to get past, even though the McLaren is one of the fastest cars on the grid. I really, really enjoyed it!”
Sutil added that he was hopeful that Force India can become regular contenders for top ten grid slots during the year ahead after the German and team-mate Tonio Liuzzi both made it through to Q3 at Sepang, with the team looking good to fight for fifth in the championship standings with Renault.
“The results speak for themselves,” he said. “At the moment, I would say that we are something in the range of one-tenth off their pace, but my second stint showed that I can catch up, even though it's harder to overtake. But we are constantly improving.
“I would say that we will be consistent Q3 runners. We probably have to focus a little bit more on the start and see what is going on with the behaviour of the clutch. We are expecting some upgrades at some of the next races.”