Spirits are high at Force India with the team aiming for a points finish in every race of 2010. Adrian Sutil completed the Jerez test this week with the second fastest time on Saturday, and fifth best of the week, and the German agrees with his bosses that they should have high hopes for the year ahead.
AUTOSPORT was there at the end of the test to hear his thoughts on the car, the team's rivals and his targets for 2010.
Q. You've had a dry day. Was the car what you'd hoped for?
Adrian Sutil: Yeah. It was a good test day in the end. Again, a few problems during the day but that's normal stuff if you run the car for longer. But nothing to be worried about, everything went fine in the end. We did some good running, tyre comparisons.
Learning about the tyres on the long runs was the most important thing today. The car feels really good, I'm really happy at the moment with the development, just in general there's much more grip than last year and we're really competitive at the moment.
Q. Has the car kept its strong points from last year as well as having more grip?
AS: Yeah. Everything changed quite a lot, the car is longer and we're always carrying much more fuel on our runs. The weight limit is also more, the tyres on the front are different, so it's like a new car.
But the general balance is very similar to last year, I think we've improved in a few areas - the high-speed balance is really good so it's easy to drive and that's quite important.
I don't really have so much to comment about set-up work because I was straight in the car, fast and pretty happy with it so we can concentrate on the main thing right now, which is learning the tyres.
Q. It looked as though the tyres were graining pretty quickly. Did you find that as well?
AS: Yeah, they are. It was the same for us, especially the soft tyre was lasting only a few laps and then it started graining already. But there I think we have to learn a little bit how to treat them better. There are several ways you can avoid the graining or just extend it for a little bit longer.
At a certain point the graining will come especially in this kind of conditions - the track was not good today - the tyres grain up really quickly. The hard tyre worked a little bit better but normally you expect no problem with the hard tyre and today the graining came in and it was really difficult to handle it.
Q. The team has talked of targeting points in every race this year. Do you think that's realistic?
AS: Yeah, definitely. It gave me a little extra push now to see how the car is on the circuit. It was even better than I thought, so I am optimistic.
Q. Do you think this is a car that can take you to a couple of victories this year?
AS: It's a bit too early to say. I don't want to speak about victories or podiums. We'll try our best but you have to see where everybody else is. It's so hard to say at the end of the day which times are on which fuel. You can guess a little bit and you can see already a few teams and how they're doing, but we're not far away. That's why I think we can achieve a lot of points this year.
Q. You mentioned the fuel. Were you completely light for your fast lap at the end?
AS: No, I was not completely light. It would not be our goal to do that because there's no reason for the first real day of testing. I think nobody really went super light today. We saw a few cars yesterday that were maybe a bit lighter than everybody else but we concentrated on our programme and I think it was a real laptime for us.
Q. There were a couple of Mercedes-powered cars at the top of the timesheet at the end of the day. Do you think it's the most powerful engine in Formula 1?
AS: I think the most complete engine, yes. Linked to the gearbox from McLaren, all the package works really well. It's the same as we had last year so we had no change on those things and our car improved in general. But I think it's the best engine at the moment, together with the Ferrari maybe. It should be really close.
Q. Do you feel the car can now be quick through a wider range of corners?
AS: Yeah, we've gained a lot of downforce. Our problem last year was the downforce, we were only really quick in certain places, like Belgium, where there are a lot of long straights. But now we have some efficient downforce and we kept the speed in the straight line so we'll be strong on particular circuits again, but hopefully also on slower speed ones where you require a little bit more downforce. That's one of those here at Jerez and it looks really well so I have a good feeling on that point as well.
Q. Do you know your programme for next week?
AS: One and a half days. Our test driver will do the first day in the morning and then swap over. Pretty similar testing, we concentrate on the long runs for sure. There will be a race simulation very soon. As long as you can go out on the tyres, practice some pitstops and stuff like that, but it's all about the tyres really.