As he prepares to return to what he describes as one of his 'home' races, Force India F1 star Adrian Sutil has conceded that 'the pressure is really on' now as a resurgent Williams closes in on the Silverstone-based squad's sixth position in the constructors' world championship standings.
With FIF1 having tallied a scant two points from the last two outings compared to 16 for Williams, the duel over P6 – and the greater chunk of the commercial pie that goes with it – is all-of-a-sudden on with a vengeance. Like team principal and chairman Dr. Vijay Mallya and team-mate Vitantonio Liuzzi, however, Sutil believes the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka next weekend could be just the opportunity to open that gap up again.
“Suzuka is one of my favourite circuits, so I always look forward to going there,” enthused the 27-year-old German of the legendary figure-of-eight track close to the Far-Eastern country's fourth-largest city, Nagoya. “Plus, going back to Japan always feels a little like going home as I lived there for a year in 2006 when I was competing in Japanese F3. I have really good memories of my time in the country. I raced at Suzuka four times that year and then also went out in free practice with Midland, so along with Silverstone and Hockenheim, it's my 'home' race as there's so much history there.
“The track itself is a real drivers' circuit. There is just about every corner you could imagine, and each one presents its own challenges. The 130R is just awesome – you're flat-out in seventh [gear], and it bends so you are completely on the limit. It really rewards you if you get it right –I can remember last year taking it in the wet at almost dry level of speed, just the best feeling.
“Last year, we had a pretty promising event at Suzuka. I was fourth on the grid, which was really good, but then we had all the penalties for the yellow flag incident so I started eighth and the race didn't turn out really well – but all-the-same, the pace was there and we could again show everyone that we were serious racers.
“I believe it should be possible to have a decent result there this year. Although the car is more competitive on all types of tracks now, we do still have more of an advantage on the low-downforce configurations, so I would hope we'd be as competitive as we were at Spa and Monza this year. Top ten in qualifying and then in the race are possible, and we've got to do it as the pressure is really on to keep sixth in the constructors' championship.”