Sauber seek to sack Sutil
Missed points-scoring opportunities at the Monaco and German GPs could prove costly
Adrian Sutil’s Formula 1 career is hanging in the balance after it emerged that Sauber are looking to replace him with reserve driver Giedo van der Garde. Sutil returned to F1 last season after a year out following his conviction on assault charges over an incident in a nightclub on the eve of the 2011 Chinese Grand Prix. He matched Paul Di Resta at Force India in 2013, and swapped places with Nico Hülkenberg for this season.
The relationship between Sutil and Sauber started positively, following the team’s strong finish to last season, in which Hülkenberg scored several big points finishes and battled with leading drivers at a number of races. But while Force India have benefited from the class-leading Mercedes engine, Sauber have a heavy, uncompetitive car mated to a Ferrari power unit, which is heavy, thirsty and underpowered.
At Monaco, both Sutil and teammate Esteban Gutiérrez squandered potential points-scoring positions by crashing at key moments. And Sutil spun out in Germany when points were again possible. As this issue goes to press, the team have yet to score a single point this season.
F1 Racing understands Sauber would like to drop Sutil, but he has a tight contract and pays a reputed € 5million for his drive. According to insiders, van der Garde has backing to the tune of € 15million. Sauber believe that while van der Garde is not as fast as Sutil, he is more technically skilled, so could be quicker because he is better at setup.
Sutil insists he is not leaving. “Half my career they said: ‘Adrian is out.’ I am still here – 120 grands prix. Any more questions? I will be here much longer. Sorry. You will have to live with my face. It is from people out there, I don’t know what their problem is. But we are good here. This is no problem: we will get out of this difficult situation and you can write some good stuff about us.”
Whatever happens in 2014, van der Garde is a strong bet for a Sauber race seat in 2015. He will most likely drive alongside either Gutiérrez, provided the Mexican money keeps coming – as it probably will with a race in Mexico City next year – or Simona De Silvestro if she proves herself in testing this season.
Sutil has missed out on crucial points and can’t match the financial backing of van der Garde