Sutil: Way more to learn about the car, and the form book, for 2014

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Sauber’s Adrian Sutil, who shifts away from his familiar confines of Force India for 2014, has admitted he still has a lot to learn about his team’s new car and has no idea how the form book will shake out for the upcoming Formula One season.

“We work well together, that is for sure – but don’t forget it is only a bit over two months (that we’ve been working together) so the ‘getting to know’ phase is still going on,” the German admitted in a Q&A with the official F1 website.

“We had some issues with the power train and had to change the engine,” he said of the team’s most recent Bahrain test. “As this is a rather difficult and time consuming matter, it was not possible to go out any more. But at least now we know how long it requires to change an engine under time pressure.”

Give Sutil some points up front for honesty about the car’s situation, and additionally for his take on how the Australian Grand Prix will shake out. Like most everyone else, he has no idea.

“How would I know? It’s all in the flow,” he said. “It might turn out to be a fantastic race or a rather dull one with only a few cars finishing. Whatever people say or believe now, it very likely will turn out differently to what the so-called experts predict.”

Asked whether he thinks he feels prepared for Melbourne, Sutil replied, “No. But I would be surprised if anybody in the paddock would say that he is – I wouldn’t believe them! We will be learning something with every race. My prediction is that the whole season will be a game of trial and error.”

Sutil will enter his seventh F1 season with more time under his belt at Sauber than last year, when he returned to Force India after a year’s hiatus only a few weeks before Melbourne. Still, he’s under no illusions about the enormity of this year’s season, with all the new elements he and the rest of the grid will be dealing with.

James Hinchcliffe on Andretti: ‘It’s certainly the place I want to be’

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Since before the start of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season, James Hinchcliffe tirelessly has worked to ensure the future would include a full-time return in 2021.

And with an opportunity to run the final three races this season with Andretti Autosport, there seems a surefire (albeit unlikely) path.

“If I go out and win all three,” Hinchcliffe joked with IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview Friday (watch the video above), “it would be hard for them to say no, right?”

Regardless of whether he can go unbeaten at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course next weekend or the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida (where he earned his first career win in 2013), Hinchcliffe will have the chance to improve his stock with the team that he knows well and now has an opening among its five cars for 2021.

All three of Hinchcliffe’s starts this season — the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, July 4 at the IMS road course and the Indianapolis 500 — were with Andretti, where he ran full time in IndyCar from 2012-14.

“Obviously, the plan from January 2020 was already working on ’21 and trying to be in a full-time program,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed being reunited with Andretti Autosport, and everybody there has been so supportive. It’s been a very fun year for me on track. It’s been kind of a breath of fresh air in a lot of ways.

“It’s certainly the place I want to be moving forward. We’ve been working on that, working on those conversations. Genesys has been an incredible partner in my three races. We’ll be representing Gainbridge primarily, but Genesys will still have a position on our car in the last three.”

Gainbridge is the primary sponsor of the No. 26 Dallara-Honda that was vacated by Zach Veach, who left the team after it was determined he wouldn’t return in 2021. Hinchcliffe can empathize having lost his ride with Arrow McLaren SP after last season with a year left on his deal.

“You never want to earn a ride at the expense of somebody else in the sense that has happened here with Zach,” Hinchcliffe said. “I feel bad that he’s not able to see out the last three races of his season. I’ve got a lot of respect for him off track. He’s been a teammate this year, a colleague for years before that and honestly a friend for years before that. I’ve got a lot of time for him and his family. I understand a little bit of what it’s like in that position and what he’s going through.”

Hinchcliffe is ready to seize the moment, though, starting with the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He had been hoping to add the Harvest Indy Grand Prix to his schedule and had been working out for the possibility.

“Then last week I had given up hope (and) was resigned that wasn’t happening,” he said. “I told my trainer, ‘I think we’re done for this year.’ Three days later, this call comes. I’m glad we didn’t make that decision too early. I feel great physically.

“I look at it as a great opportunity to continue to show I’ve still got what it takes and should be there hopefully full time next year on the grid.”

Watch Hinchliffe’s video with Leigh Diffey above or by clicking here.