Mar 15, 2013, 8:00 PM EDT
Adrian Sutil showed no signs of rustiness on his official return to Formula One in Melbourne on Friday as he finished both practice sessions inside the top ten.
“It was a very good day and I feel satisfied. The baseline set-up was not too far away from what we needed and the car felt very similar to the way it performed in Barcelona at the final test.
“I had a good feeling all day and enjoyed working with my engineers, who I already know very well.”
The German driver was dropped by Force India at the end of the 2011 season following an incident in a Chinese nightclub which resulted in Sutil being charged with GBH. However, after Nico Hulkenberg left the team to join Sauber for 2013, Sutil was given a second chance in the sport.
Many pundits questioned the move as some drivers have struggled following time out from F1 (most notably Michael Schumacher). Sutil not only out-paced teammate Paul di Resta in practice, but he also finished inside the top ten in what were two very close sessions. The Force India driver underlined the importance of getting used to the new tires in time for the race on Sunday.
“The track is obviously evolving and improving, but we got a good feel for the tires. The main focus tonight is to work on improving the balance on the super-softs.”
Sutil’s pace in practice was indeed competitive, and if he can continue this form on Saturday and Sunday he could quickly establish himself as the number one driver at Force India despite his year out.