Sutil rues more bad luck

Leave a comment

Adrian Sutil’s luck didn’t improve during the Spanish Grand Prix as he failed to score for the fourth race in a row.

Sutil’s race got off to an excellent start as he passed several drivers around the outside of the first corner, climbing five places to take eighth. But disaster struck at his first pit stop.

“It was all going to plan until the first pit stop when there was an issue and I lost so much time,” Sutil said. “The team told me to switch the engine off while they sorted the problem, but it cost me the chance of points.”

“For the rest of the race it was a case of pushing as much as possible because you never know what can happen. It’s frustrating, but you have to accept these things. Hopefully it will not happen again.”

Force India confirmed the problem on Sutil’s car was a cross-threaded wheel nut. They said it was not related to the problem the team had in Malaysia, where both drivers had to retire because of problems changing their tires.

Sutil’s misfortune continued in China where he was hit from behind by Esteban Gutierrez and taken out of the race. His race in Bahrain was ruined by a first-lap collision with Felipe Massa.

But Force India’s problems weren’t confined to Sutil yesterday. A problem with the signal to Paul di Resta’s car meant he was not being automatically notified when he could use DRS, meaning his engineer had to tell him when he was able to.

F1 2017 driver review: Esteban Ocon

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Esteban Ocon

Team: Sahara Force India
Car No.: 31
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: P5 (Spain, Mexico)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 87
Championship Position: 8th

A shining star in Mercedes’ junior programme, Esteban Ocon vaulted fellow youngster Pascal Wehrlein in the pecking order to secure a seat at Force India for 2017 – and boy, did he live up to the hype.

Ocon arrived at Force India with half a season of racing under his belt after his outings with Manor late in 2016, but wasted little time in settling in, scoring points on debut in Australia after winning a thrilling three-way fight with Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso.

The Frenchman spent much of the year close to teammate Sergio Perez – even if things did get a little too close in Canada, Baku and, finally, Spa, prompting the team to introduce team orders – and impressed the entire paddock with his displays.

While no podium was forthcoming, Ocon was often leading the midfield fight, enjoying three straight finishes ahead of Perez from Japan to Mexico. Given how well Perez is rated on-track in the paddock, to have convincingly beaten him in such fashion did a lot for Ocon’s reputation.

The term ‘Oconsistency’ also came into F1’s dictionary as he set a new record for consecutive finishes from his first race, with his retirement in Brazil ending the streak at 27 grands prix. It was also his first retirement in a single-seater race since the 2014 Macau Grand Prix.

The highlight moment arguably came at Monza, though, when Ocon stuck his Force India third on the grid through torrential rain in qualifying. While he would drop to P6 at the checkered flag, the display nevertheless cemented his place as one of F1’s rising stars.

Mercedes rates Ocon very highly, and with Valtteri Bottas’ future beyond 2018 already being questioned by the paddock, a good season could see the youngster move on up to the top table of F1 for 2019. His progression in the next 12 months will be fascinating to keep track of.

Season High: Lining up P3 on the grid at Monza after a rainy qualifying.

Season Low: Clashing with Perez in Baku, costing Force India a possible podium.