Force India has placed themselves squarely and quite confidently in the fight with Renault for the bragging rights and money that would be the 5th team or “best of the rest”. With Today’s Malaysian Grand Prix, Force India has climbed even closer to the battle with Renault but most importantly, they have replaced Williams F1 as the main threat to Renault.
Adrian Sutil’s 5th place finish in today’s Malaysian GP was a bright spot for team owner Vijay Mallya and is starting to become a terrific and consistent routine for the Indian businessman:
Three races and three times in the points, I am absolutely delighted. Adrian had a strong race, keeping a cool head under pressure when a charging Lewis Hamilton was right on his tail. Once again we’ve proved the pace of our car and our ability to really mix it in the midfield. It was disappointing not to have two cars in the points, but it is overall very positive that we can race hard and score points entirely on merit.
While teammate Vitantonio Liuzz’s luck ran out on lap 12 with a throttle problem, one of the good battles on track was that of Sutil and McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton. Sutil held the upper hand and kept the world champion at bay. Sutil was elated with the duel saying:
The race was exciting and fifth place in the end was a great achievement. I was hoping for a good race as we were so close in the first two races but then had a little bit of back luck that stopped us scoring. It was a good overall performance from the team. It was always very close with Lewis [Hamilton] just behind in the closing stages but I knew that if I didn’t make any mistakes I wouldn’t have any problems, so it was just trying to concentrate. I had to push, of course, but it was under control. I think we can now carry this forward to China: we are still a good top 10 competitor and we need to continue like this – Q3 and a few points each race would be great at this stage in the season.
Force India are sitting at 18 points in the world championship. Renault enjoy a lead with 30 points. Most importantly, Force India have left Williams behind sitting on 6 points. The key lesson from today’s race was set up and straight line speed, which their cars had in spades last year, but one could argue their medium speed corner performance has improved. The McLaren, in the hands of Hamilton, could not pass the Sutil and this is a good sign for the team to take to China.