Force India F1 team owner Vijay Mallya admits that the frustration of seeing Adrian Sutil taken out of the Monaco Grand Prix continues to linger days after the event, taking the gloss off what had, to that point, been a near perfect race for the young German.

Sutil has been under fire from some quarters for his lacklustre start to the season, but Mallya says that running as high as fourth, and on merit, should help convince the doubters that he deserves his place in Formula One. And the German's performance was just one of the positives that Mallya said the team should take from the weekend.

"We were obviously shattered [by Sutil's exit]," the Indian confessed, "We were so looking forward to a spectacular result, which was not to be. It has however done two things, and we need to take away the positives.

"Firstly, Adrian has a lot of ability and talent, and we're glad - and proud - to have him in our team. Some people started questioning my decision to keep him when he didn't finish a few races at the start of the season, but I think he has more than redeemed himself.

"Secondly, I think our strategy and our whole team came together [this weekend]. The race strategy was right, the set-up was right, and to see a Force India car running fourth in Monaco was a great pleasure - while it lasted. We were seven minutes from home, so it was unfortunate, but I guess that's what racing is all about. I can't say that I'm not feeling sad, because I am, but we'll get over it, and we'll take away a lot of positives."

Mallya admitted that, with Kimi Raikkonen closely pursuing Sutil and being given the opportunity to close the gap the German had established before the late safety car period, he would have been happy for his driver to come home in fifth, provided that he did nothing silly to jeopardise the possibility of points. Instead, it was the reigning world champion who made the mistake...

"Our strategy was one stop, and we filled ourselves up with fuel," he revealed, "I told both drivers to stay out of trouble on lap one - we have normally started very well and had incidents on the first lap, so I said 'stay right out of trouble, take your time, you're going to go for a one-stop strategy, bring both cars home'.

"We knew that we were good in the wet, Adrian has demonstrated that before, and everything worked to perfection until that fateful moment. We were well clear of Raikkonen until the safety car came out, and then we knew that he was going to attack us, so we warned Adrian on the radio that [he had] Raikkonen right behind. Of course, we didn't want him to get pressured and do anything stupid because, if he wasn't fourth, he would have still finished fifth and that, in itself, would have been a huge accomplishment."

It was ironic, therefore, that Sutil's exit should come when Raikkonen wasn't even in a position to threaten, the Finn losing control of his Ferrari from some way behind the German as they approached the harbour-side chicane.

"Kimi just rear-ended him," Mallya sighed, "It wasn't as if it was an overtaking manoeuvre, so something drastic must have happened, because you wouldn't expect a world champion to run into somebody. It was sad for us - that moment was a very emotional moment.

"I was nearly in tears, and so were many of us. I've had quite a lot of SMS messages and 'phone calls from supporters in India, all of whom are, I think, highly emotional. But such things happen in racing, and that's what I've been telling everyone. F1 wouldn't be F1 if it wasn't as unpredictable as it is."

Although 'unpredictable' is probably what Force India needs if it is to score points - at least between now and Formula One's next visit to a street circuit, in Valencia, in August - Mallya insists that he does not want to benefit from the weather and safety cars.

"We don't want to base our earning points on exceptional circumstances," he claimed, despite knowing that last year's trip to Canada - the next stop on the schedule - was affected by both.

"The team's got to be good and competitive, and that's what we're driving for. Everyone's doing their best to make that happen, and I just hope that some of these efforts get rewarded soon."

 

Comments

Loading Comments...