Adrian Sutil has acknowledged that Force India is now fighting a rearguard action as it endeavours to stave off the threat of an increasingly potent Williams for sixth spot in the F1 2010 constructors' standings – but he hopes updates for this weekend's inaugural Korean Grand Prix will enable the team to pull away again rather than cede further ground.
Sutil and team-mate Vitantonio Liuzzi notched up a double retirement in the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka just under a fortnight ago – the former with an oil leak, the latter finding himself quite literally harpooned by the out-of-control Ferrari of Felipe Massa into the first corner – and allied to Rubens Barrichello's ninth-place finish for Williams, the Silverstone-based squad's advantage over its Grove-based rivals has shrunk to a scant two points heading into Korea.
In the last three outings, indeed, whilst Williams has tallied 18 points courtesy of the ultra-experienced Barrichello and impressive F1 2010 rookie Nico Hülkenberg, FIF1 has managed only three – meaning that with as many races still to run between now and season's end, the battle is on with a vengeance. Sutil concedes that the team cannot afford any more weekends like that it endured in Japan.
“I drove the Yeongam circuit on the simulator to get a head-start on what to expect when we arrive,” the 27-year-old revealed. “It looks as though it is a good circuit with plenty of interesting corners and sections that could provide some overtaking opportunities.
“I would say overall it's a medium-speed circuit – there are three long straights where you can reach over 315km/h, but also some slow-to-medium sections that will bring the overall speed down. There's a real mix of corners, including some Tilke 'trademarks' such as a hairpin after one of the straights and some more flowing curves.
“I've seen and driven the layout on the sim, but what you can't get an idea of is the bumps, the grip levels and the kerbs. As the track surface has been laid only very recently, it's going to evolve over the weekend – I expect this to be one of the major talking-points of the weekend, and we'll look to get as much information [as possible] on Friday.
“I expect we'd run a medium level of downforce on the circuit, but a lot will depend on the bumps and the track surface. If there is a lot of grip then we could even run a lower level, but we'll see when we get there. It just means practice will be busier than usual, as this is the kind of information you can only get when you drive the cars on the track.
“It's going to be an interesting weekend, as we've got a big battle on our hands at the moment. We've got to do better in qualifying this race and then of course finish – it was a disappointment not to get to the end [at Suzuka] as the car has been very reliable this year, but it just makes me more determined to get points this time out, both for myself and for the team.”
That much is corroborated by Force India team principal and chairman Dr. Vijay Mallya, who well recognises the importance of holding onto P6 in the title chase and explains that it is all hands to the pumps inside the team to churn out upgrades and improvements in a tireless effort to do just that.