Rookie Adrian Sutil starts his first season in competition with the SpykerF1 team in 2007 and has only just got to grips with the idea that he'll be a Grand Prix driver. Speaking exclusively to Motorsport.com at the launch of the Spyker F8-VII at Silverstone on February 5th, the German was enthusiastic about his upcoming season.
Mcom: You said you were surprised to get the race seat but surely you must have had some idea that it was likely to happen?
Adrian Sutil: Sure, I had a little idea but I more expected a test driver job. But in the end I knew there were some negotiations for the race seat, so I was hoping and praying! Then the news came, three days before Christmas I think, and it was a big moment in my life. I will never forget it, it was great!
Mcom: Did it help that you knew Colin Kolles (Spyker team principal) before, in F3?
AS: I had a contact, yes, and he believed in my performance. I got a chance to test with his F3 team in 2003, I did one test and he was happy with my performance and pushed me for a Mercedes junior seat. Since then he was always trying to help me but in the end everything was important for the F1 seat. It was important last year when I did the Friday tests. I convinced the team and they were happy with me; on the list I was the first driver they wanted for this season.
Mcom: Presumably you wish you had more time in the car last year? Because you only did three Fridays.
AS: Sure, I would have liked to have all the Fridays! But I had the chance three times to show (what I could do) and it was not so easy because I had no testing before. I went in from F3 and had to show it in two hours but I did it and I was surprised that it was so good.
Mcom: The other rookies this year, such as Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen, they've had more time in the car than you, so do you feel a bit at a disadvantage?
AS: Yes, it's always a little bit of a disadvantage, I have not done so much, so I will be the one with less mileage with a Formula One team. But I think after the first race I will be fine, no problem. I have some experience from last year and also some test days (before the season) will be a help.
Mcom: On the basis that you've had so little time in the car, what can you expect to achieve this season? To get into the top 16 in qualifying, to just reach the chequered flag?
AS: I think this is the goal for me, to try to achieve things like that. It's hard to say because I don't know the car just yet. Once we're on track we'll be able see how the car is and how much improvement we can make. Just trying to be better than last year really, then from the middle of the season with the new car to be able to be in the top ten sometimes. The first race will be to not make any mistakes and reach the end!
Mcom: You've had your seat fittings and have been doing simulations with the steering wheel, how's it been going?
AS: It's been very good. With the steering wheel sims you can go through all the functions. They're so big and there's so many buttons, so much variety so you have to know it all.
Mcom: Are you not worried about pressing the wrong thing?
AS: Yes! (Laughs) In a race you're always going so you can maybe forget something, so it's very important to learn everything and make it like… second nature.
Mcom: What about the cockpit, as you're so tall? (Even with high heels on, Adrian towered above me. Me with high heels, I mean, not him.)
AS: Yeah, we did a very good seat for me, I fit in well. I have no problems.
Mcom: There must be quite a few circuits on the calendar that you're not familiar with?
AS: I know only five tracks so all the other ones I will have to learn, so it will not be easy this season. The simulations help but not a great deal.
Mcom: Do you find more of a technical challenge, setting up an F1 car?
AS: In the previous categories I did it was my strong point, to set up a car. I was very good in technical points so I think in F1 I will be quite good as well. I'm very interested in this area so I always try to get a lot of information and try and be better than the others.
Mcom: What are you most looking forward to this season?
AS: Just life as an F1 driver really, just driving! Everything is special in Formula One, it's the motorsport with all the glamour, the best in the world. So everything really, I'm just looking forward to it all.
Mcom: And what about the worst things?
AS: At the moment I don't know. Maybe in the future something will come, maybe a lot of media and to have no time to yourself, but it's a part of the F1 life.