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Biography

SEASON INFORMATION
15/08/2013

 

Biography

 
In his early years, it looked as though Adrian was going to follow in his father's footsteps and seek a career as a professional musician, having trained as a concert pianist.

At the age of 14 however, rather than discovering 'Rock 'n' Roll, Adrian discovered Karting, and his life was changed forever. "From that moment on the sound of racing engines was the only music I wanted to hear," he admits.

Spending the next few years honing his skills in Karts, Adrian switched to single-seaters in 2002, winning all ten rounds of the Swiss Formula Ford Championship in addition to taking five wins in the Austrian Formula Masters Championship.

There followed a difficult season in the Formula BMW ADAC championship, his best result being a sixth place, with things only marginally improving in 2004 when he switched to the Formula 3 Euroseries. That said, in Euroseries he drove for Colin Kolles team, the two forging a relationship that would eventually lead to Formula One.

For 2005 he remained in Euroseries but switched to the ASM Team, where he was partnered by upcoming British hot-shot, Lewis Hamilton. Adrian was no match for the British youngster, who won fifteen races to the German's two. However, the German finished runner-up in the championship and second (to Hamilton) in the Marlboro Masters at Zandvoort.

Adrian missed the last two rounds of the 2005 Euroseries in order to represent his country in A1 GP, taking part in three races (Portugal, Australia and Dubai), his best result being two twelfth positions.

In 2006, Adrian followed the example of many before him, heading off to Japan, where he contested, and won, the F3 championship. In addition to one appearance in Super GT, the German finished third at Macau.

2006 also saw the youngster get his F1 break, recruited as one of three test drivers for Midland F1 Racing (formerly Jordan), and managed by his former Euroseries boss Colin Kolles. Adrian took part in three Friday test sessions (at the European, French and Japanese rounds) giving a fairly good account of himself.

Nonetheless, there was widespread surprise when Spyker, which had bought Midland in September, subsequently confirmed that Adrian had been signed as its second driver (partnering Christijan Albers) on a "long-term contract".

"This is a great signing for team," said Spyker Team Principal Kolles, however, the majority of the paddock, not least Tiago Monteiro, remained flummoxed that Adrian had made it to F1 so quickly and with no real track record, so to speak. Even the German seemed surprised by the decision, admitting: "To be honest I thought I would be a test driver in 2007".

Almost from the outset, it was clear that Adrian, although not exactly 'special' in the Lewis Hamilton sense, was good. Indeed, he was very good.

Looking at the stats it would appear the German had a miserable season, scoring one point, and that the result of Tonio Liuzzi being penalized for overtaking under a yellow flag. However, along the way there were some remarkable performances, most notably in a wet Saturday free practice session in Monaco, where he topped the timesheets, and at Spa, where a strong drive - combined with a good tyre strategy - saw him mixing it with the Top Ten, giving David Coulthard a hard time. There were also a number of excellent qualifying performances, Monaco springing to mind (again).

Yes, there were mistakes, often the result of over exuberance, such as Canada, Monaco and Silverstone, but for the most part the German youngster was impressive. After all, why else was he being looked at by Toyota, Williams and even McLaren, as it searched for a replacement for Fernando Alonso, at the end of 2007?

As it is, Adrian opted to remain with Spyker which had now become Force India, with team owner, billionaire Vijay Mallya, clearly impressed with the German driver, while at the same time convincing him that the Silverstone outfit meant business.

"He's a very good, quick driver," said Mike Gascoyne, who has worked with some excellent drivers over the years. "Mentally he has the ability, he just has to remain focussed."

Sadly, the team was not able to give him a car with which he could do very much, indeed it was essentially the 2007 car, which in itself was a derivative of Midland's 2006 contender.

Nonetheless, Adrian did his best, the season highlight coming at Monaco when he was running in fourth with just 6 laps remaining at which point he was clouted by Kimi Raikkonen's out-of-control Ferrari. Despite the subsequent outcry, it was later revealed that the German had overtaken three cars under a yellow flag and if he hadn't been eliminated from the race by the Finn he would have been handed a 25s penalty.

Retained by Force India for 2009, we looked forward to seeing how Adrian would progress, particularly in light of the technical partnership the team had established with McLaren and Mercedes. For the most part he didn't disappoint.

Although the new partnership with McLaren and Mercedes signalled a major step forward for Force India, it was agreed so late that the fruits of it were only really noticeable towards the end of the season, the VJM02 having originally been designed to accommodate a Ferrari engine.

Nonetheless, thanks to excellent work from the team in accommodating the Mercedes FO108W powerplant, the McLaren gearbox and Mercedes KERS system, not to mention sterling work from the aero department, by season end the car was a different beast to that with which Adrian began the season.

Like his teammate Giancarlo Fisichella, Adrian struggled in the early races, the German rarely making it beyond Q1 and therefore leaving himself with a mountain to climb the following day. Nonetheless, there were some strong performances most notably in Australia where he finished just outside the points having started from sixteenth and China where, with 6 laps remaining, he was running sixth until he aquaplaned in the treacherous conditions.

However, there were mistakes also, such as Bahrain where he was penalised for blocking Mark Webber during Q1 and Spain where he caused an incident that eliminated Jarno Trulli and caused the two Toro Rosso drivers to collide.

By the time the circus arrived at Silverstone the effects of the marriage with McLaren and Mercedes were finally beginning to appear however, brake failure in Q1 left Adrian eighteenth on the grid while the following day - despite a new car and engine - he could only manage seventeenth.

Making the most of the conditions Adrian qualified seventh in Germany however, next day a certain points finish ended in disaster when he collided with Kimi Raikkonen whilst leaving the pits.

There were more upgrades in time for Valencia where Adrian finished tenth, having qualified twelfth, before the team really came into its own at Spa, the first of the season's two seriously low-downforce races.

While Adrian qualified and finished eleventh, he and his team were buoyed by the fact that teammate Fisichella took pole and finished second in the race, the Italian crossing the line just 0.939s behind winner, Kimi Raikkonen.

When Fisichella moved to Ferrari to replace Felipe Massa, Adrian effectively became team leader, the German instantly responding to the responsibility of his new role. At Monza he qualified second subsequently finishing fourth in the race out-paced only by the Brawns and that man Raikkonen.

In Japan Adrian qualified fourth and Brazil third however, there were no more points. Indeed, in Singapore he was hit with a $20,000 fine for causing an avoidable accident while in Japan he was involved in a trackside row with Jarno Trulli after they collided on the first lap. The Italian was subsequently fined $10,000 for his outburst.

While the stats might not support it, the fact is that Force India continued to punch above its weight in 2010, albeit in less dramatic fashion than the previous year. Starting the season around a second off the pace of the Red Bulls, the gap was about the same by the end of they year. Where the Silverstone based outfit lost out however, is that by then it had been eclipsed by both Williams and Sauber.

As it tried to focus on development, like so many of its rivals, precious resources needed to be diverted in order to copy the two biggest innovations of the year, the F-duct and the blown diffuser. Sticking with the Mercedes engine/McLaren gearbox package that had proved so successful in 2009, the VJM03 was an improvement in that it was better across a wider rage of tracks, whereas the VJM02 was at its best mainly when high downforce wasn't required.

While the team introduced its F-duct in Turkey, the blown diffuser made its race debut in Belgium having been tried during the free practice sessions in Hungary. The team was constantly playing around with its front wing while over the course of the season no less than seven different floors were used.

Although he qualified tenth in Bahrain, Adrian was involved in a first lap clash with Robert Kubica, leaving Liuzzi to open the team's 2010 points account. It was Liuzzi who added a further 6 points in Australia, Adrian suffering an engine problem nine laps into the race, however, the German took advantage of the conditions and rivals' misfortunes to take a splendid 5th in Malaysia.

In Spain, Adrian began a sequence of six races in which he scored points, having made it through to Q3 on five occasions. However, in the second half of the season as the team continued to lose ground, the results were few and far between, though the German took a convincing 5th in Belgium.

Adrian clearly had the edge over his teammate for much of the season, out-qualifying the Italian 16 times and scoring 26 more points.

For 2011, his fourth season with Force India, Adrian was partnered by Scotland's Paul di Resta who - no disrespect to the talented Liuzzi - was expected to give the German more of a run for his money.

Finishing eleventh in the season opener, Adrian benefited when both Saubers were disqualified for a rear wing irregularity, the German subsequently promoted to ninth and his teammate tenth.

In Malaysia, as in Melbourne, Adrian was out-qualified by his teammate, however, this time they were to both finish outside the points with no subsequent promotions.

Low key performances continued in China also, however, it was in the weeks that followed that news broke that was to haunt the German for the remainder of the year.

Weeks after the Chinese Grand Prix reports emerged of an incident in a Shanghai nightclub which resulted in Adrian being sued by Eric Lux, Genii Capital CEO and co-owner of the Lotus Renault GP team. Lux claimed that Adrian had stabbed him in the neck with a broken glass, the injury requiring twenty stitches.

On 16 May, Lux announced that he had filed a criminal complaint for physical assault and grievous bodily harm against the German. Force India owner Vijay Mallya backed up his driver advising people not to speculate and confirmed that he would take no action until the case proceeded further. At the same time, Adrian apologised for the incident, describing it as unintentional.

A number of teams experienced a season of two halves in 2011, and so too did Force India. However, while its rivals appeared to drop off as the season progressed, the Indian team grew stronger. The VJM04 was a no frills machine, what some might call conservative. However, it was a solid foundation of a car that could be built upon, which is exactly what the team did. Having scored just twelve points in the first half of the season, from Germany the Silverstone outfit racked up a further fifty-seven.

Most of those early points came from Adrian, and while he narrowly missed out in Turkey and Spain there was a well deserved seventh in Monaco.

In Germany, courtesy of a different strategy, he brought his VJM04 home in sixth, scoring further points in Belgium, Singapore, India, Abu Dhabi and Brazil, finishing the season ninth in the standings, fifteen clear of his teammate.

While it was a good, convincing season, especially the two sixth-place finishes in Germany and Brazil, he failed to comprehensively out-shine his rookie teammate, who was especially strong in qualifying.

Be it the apparent lack of conviction, or perhaps the spectre of the China nightclub incident, Force India was also clearly unimpressed ending weeks of speculation in mid-December when it confirmed that di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg would comprise its 2012 line-up.

On 13 January 2012, German prosecutors announced that Sutil would stand trial over the incident, charged with assault occasioning grievous bodily harm. He was subsequently convicted of the charge on 31 January, for which he received an 18-month suspended prison sentence and given a 200,000 euro fine which was to be donated to charity.

While Adrian was known to have visited Williams Grove HQ, he didn't get the call and as result was forced to sit out the 2012 season.

He attended a number of races during the course of 2012 and over the winter of 2012/2013 and was widely linked with the second seat at his old team, Force India, however, the team was also looking at Jules Bianchi.

After weeks of procrastination, not to mention the ludicrous sight of Paul di Resta unveiling the team's 2013 car solo, Adrian was finally officially confirmed at the Silverstone outfit on 28 February, halfway through the first day of the final official pre-season test.

Statistics - at the end of 2011 Season

Drivers' Titles: 0
Seasons in F1: 5
Grand Prix: 90
Wins: 0
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 1

Best result in 2011: 6th (2 times)
Best qualifying 2011: 8th (4 times)
Worst qualifying 2011: 17th (2 times)

2011: Out-qualified Paul di Resta 10 times
2011: Out-qualified by Paul di Resta 9 times

2011: Completed 1057 out of 1133 laps (93.3%)
2011: Finished 17 times from 19 starts (89%)

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