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Mat Coch writes:
After a year in the wilderness Adrian Sutil has announced his return to Formula One in no uncertain terms. For some ten laps his Force India circled Albert Park at the head of the fielf giving the Silverstone squad a dream start to the 2013 season.
Sutil inherited the lead courtesy of being one of the last cars to stop for tyres, but once out front he was able to remain ahead on genuine pace.
Indeed, such was his speed rather than relinquishing the lead once Sebastian Vettel had closed the gap following his first pit stop Sutil began to edge away.
"I saw the cars behind coming up. I was still pushing and tried to stay where I was, but I could actually pull away a little bit," he smiled, following the race.
Pitting from the lead Sutil enjoyed a strong second stint, which included another brief spell as race leader, before stopping with twelve laps remaining for a mandatory set of super-soft Pirellis.
"His inexperience on the super softs cost him probably a couple of positions," team boss Bob Fernley told Pitpass. "I think he could have held fifth had he had more time to be able to work with it. But that's not Adrian's fault, he needs just more time in the car."
Sutil ended the race seventh, beating teammate Paul di Resta by a single position, after dropping as much as five seconds a lap in the closing stages."I didn't really do a mistake so from my point of view it was probably the maximum I could have done," added Sutil. "I didn't have so much testing, I had just three days. There's more to come."
"Paul did a super job on his soft tyres, he really looked after those well," said Fernley. "It sounds absolutely ridiculous coming from Force India but we got stuck behind Jenson (Button) and it cost him dearly."
Heading into the weekend di Resta claimed a sixth or seventh place finish was effectively a win for the team, comments which mark the Australian Grand Prix as a particular success.
Fernley however does not believe the result comes as a surprise. "There were things that were happening in Barcelona that we could see and people didn't pick up on," he claimed. "If you looked at all of the general sort of estimate of cars coming out of Barcelona we didn't feature anywhere. I think people didn't see us coming but the signs were there if people bothered to look."
The signs from Australia where therefore good for Force India, though the squad admits it's unlikely it can repeat the performance consistently. "There will be the odd thing that comes up but it will be opportunism, not on merit," Fernley explained. "As a team our first goal is to regain sixth place (in the Constructors' Championship).
"I think the most important thing is that while (McLaren is) just a little bit vulnerable, which will only be for a short period, we've got to get as many points as we can," he added. "They'll come back and then it'll be harder for everybody."
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