Mar 17, 2013, 11:00 AM EDT
The Australian Grand Prix may have been Adrian Sutil’s first race since November 2011, but the German driver was one of the surprise packages as he excelled to finish in 7th place.
“What a fantastic race and a great feeling,” Sutil said. “I started on the medium tires, a different strategy to most of the cars ahead of me, and I think this was the right decision.
“The pace was quick and the car felt very good on the medium tires so I was able to keep up with the guys in front of me, who I knew were going to pit early.”
Sutil managed to make a two-stop strategy work, and he led large parts of the race as he frustrated the likes of Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso. Although it was the first time he had led a Grand Prix, Sutil managed to pull away from Vettel during the first stint, and he may have been in the running for a podium had he not suffered on the super-soft tires at the end of the race.
“My final stint on the super-softs was much more difficult because the tires started graining and I lost a few places. I was thinking I might need to pit again, but fortunately the tires came back to me for the final few laps so I could save the seventh place.
“This result for the team is a perfect way to start the season and I want to say a big ‘thank you’ to the team once again.”
Force India celebrated a double-points score in Melbourne after Paul di Resta finished just behind Sutil in eighth, putting them level on points with Mercedes and ahead of McLaren and closest rivals Williams and Sauber. Following the controversy surrounding their decision to give Sutil a second chance at the team, Force India will be delighted to have silenced their critics in the best possible fashion.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!