Having chosen 99 as his permanent race number, Sauber new boy Adrian Sutil admits that he's aiming for the maximum.
The start of the 2014 Formula One season is approaching. Is the adrenaline pumping yet?
"Yes, let's say it's getting there slowly. We are now at the end of January and we are close to the first test, I'm very excited to see how it will be, because no one really knows what the car is going to be like to drive on a circuit. There is a new era now with new engines and new cars. So I'm really exited and looking forward to stepping into a real new race car with a new team."
How did the winter preparations go, and did you spend a lot of time in the factory getting to know everyone?
"I've spent a lot of time here in the factory - as much as possible. And it was good to start quite early and to be announced mid December. That's early enough to prepare and there are a lot of things to go through, especially with a new team and new people; I have to remember all the new faces. And there still is a lot of work to do. The preparation is going well, the seat fitting was fine, I feel comfortable and am ready to roll out for the first test."
What are your expectations for the 2014 Season?
"I always try to improve. My best season was 2011, I finished ninth in the championship, so my realistic target would be to be better then ninth. But it's very early and it's always hard to make any predictions for the season. So let's see what will happen. We have a lot of work to do and I'm confident. We want to maximise our package as a team and that's the most important thing."
You have your own number now that will stick to you for the rest of your Formula One career, why did you choose the number 99?
"99, yes. Everyone is probably aiming for the low numbers, I went for the highest number. I am aiming at the maximum."
Tests involve a lot of hard work, especially this year with significant regulation changes. How do you prepare yourself?
"Especially on the technical side there are a lot of things to learn. That's why the time in the factory now is quite important. There are so many new things regarding the engine and the fuel management, which I think is one of the most difficult things for the new season. And it's good to get to know as much as possible. We also haven't used brake-by-wire before. But there is also a lot of (fitness) training going on, as usual. However, I am more focussed on loosing weight. I'm a tall driver and I was always on the limit with the weight, but now I have to drop the last few kilos, so I'm on it already and this time haven't eaten too much over Christmas and New Year."
How long does it actually take to adjust to a car, which is fundamentally different than in previous years?
"It's always difficult to step into a new car at the beginning. Of course you need time to adapt yourself. But this year it's a completely new car for everyone. So there is no advantage for some drivers or disadvantage for the others. Therefore I think to also change team right now is probably not a bad thing to do, because you don't have the disadvantage to the other drivers, as everyone is in the same boat right now. No one knows how it is going to be, so I'm on the same level as the others."
How well do you know your team-mate?
"I don't know him too well, but I have known him for quite a while before he was in Formula One, in GP3 and GP2. We have a friend in common, so I know a little bit about him and for sure we will know each other better in the future. He is a good guy, well educated from what I've heard, so I'm looking forward to working with him."
What will be the greatest sporting challenge of the upcoming season?
"The highest sporting challenge would be to maximise what you have in the car, especially in the early races. I would say fuel management would be the number one topic. That's something we haven't (had to) focused on so much in the past, as we could really push through the race. Now I think it's going to be more like endurance racing. You have to last until the end with a certain amount of fuel. This is quite a challenge, and for us drivers there are quite a few things to learn and to prepare."