While he admits that it may take him a little while to get used to racing once again, Adrian Sutil has already set himself lofty aims for his return to the F1 fold.
The German was brought back into the Force India line-up following Nico Hulkenberg's defection to Sauber, despite the Silverstone squad already evaluating Jules Bianchi, and says that it didn't take long before he felt comfortable in the cockpit of the new VJM06 which he'll campaign alongside 2011 team-mate Paul di Resta.
“It's all happened very quickly, but I've received a warm welcome and it's good to see lots of happy and familiar faces once again,” Sutil reflected, “It's clear the team has grown, but I am working with my old race engineer and the team still feels like 'home'. When I was back in the car for the first time in Barcelona, it felt natural – almost as if I had never been away. I was back on the pace and able to push hard straight away.
“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. 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. We need to start the year well, aim high and take our chances.”
While many drivers would lament having to take a year out of the F1 career, Sutil – who was fortunate to escape a prison sentence after being found guilty of assaulting Genii Capital's Eric Lux in Shanghai – says that he may have benefited from his enforced absence.
“It's a new beginning; my second chance in F1 and I intend to make the most of this opportunity,” he insisted, “2012 was an interesting year because I experienced life away from F1 and, in many ways, it has given me a new perspective. I think it helped me grow as a person and I feel mentally stronger as a result. I feel fresh and energised, and ready for the season.”