Adrian Sutil is a former racing driver from Germany who spent most of his career in open-wheel competitions. He recorded 128 starts in Formula One World Championship between 2007 and 2014, driving for Spyker, Force India and Sauber. Earlier in a career, he was the 2006 Japanese Formula 3 champion and 2005 Formula 3 Euro Series vice-champion.
Late start of a racing career
Adrian Sutil was born on January 11, 1983, in Stamberg, Bavaria. He started racing relatively late, at the age of 14.
Interestingly, his first love was music and he was a talented pianist which wasn’t surprising knowing that his parents are professional musicians. Sutil made first steps in the world of motorsport driving a karting.
Swiss Formula Ford champion in 2002
After five years in karting, Adrian moved to Swiss Formula Ford in 2002 and became the champion in his first attempt. He won 12 out of 12 races, all from pole position, and future looked promising. The following year, he competed in Formula BMW ADAC with HBR Motorsport and finished 6th, with three podiums.
Moving to Formula 3 in 2004
Move to Formula 3 Euro Series in 2004 arrived probably a bit early for Sutil. His rookie season in the series wasn’t impressive at all. Adrian finished 17th in the Drivers’ championship, scoring just twice out of 20 races, both time at Adria International Raceway.
Formula 3 Euro Series vice-champion in 2005
The following season was much better. Sutil moved from Team Kolles to ASM Formule 3 team and progressed a lot. After scoring two wins and a total of 11 podiums, German driver finished the season as a runner-up, losing to Lewis Hamilton. Sutil was also 2nd in the 2005 Masters of Formula 3 at Zandvoort Circuit and again he finished behind Hamilton.
Conquering Japan in 2006
Next stop in Sutil’s career was Japan and that move proved to be an excellent one. Adrian signed with TOM’S, one of the best teams in Japan, and success was imminent. Sutil won the All-Japan Formula 3 championship scoring five wins and other seven podium finishes. The same year he also finished 3rd in the Macau Grand Prix, behind Mike Conway and Richard Antinucci. Before he left Japan, Sutil also made a one-off appearance in Japanese Super GT.
Formula 1 debut with Spyker
In 2006, Sutil also got an opportunity to taste Formula 1 as a test and reserve driver of Midland F1 Racing team which will later become Spyker MF1 Team. Experience picked during that year helped him a lot in the next season.
Sutil debuted in Formula 1 races in 2007. He was promoted to the racing driver of Spyker team and competed in every Grand Prix event. He also scored team’s only point that year, finishing 8th in the Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji Speedway.
Sutil spent four years with Force India
The German rookie impressed by not only dominating all of his teammates in both qualifying and races, but also by challenging other drivers despite having totally uncompetitive car. He earned many praises by his colleagues and his place was cemented even when his team was purchased by a new owner and was renamed to Force India.
The new team struggled a lot in the beginning, so Sutil wasn’t able to show his full potential. In 2008, Adrian finished 20th overall and was one of four drivers who failed to pick a single point. The following season was slightly better and the Italian Grand Prix was definitely the highlight. Sutil qualified 2nd and finished 4th in the race after scoring the fastest lap.
Too many ups and downs
That was the only race in which German driver managed to score that year. At the end of the campaign, the Force India’s driver was 17th in standings but still, the whole team was full of optimism for the following season.
The season of 2010 was definitely a big step forward for the team and for Adrian but it was obvious that the German driver could achieve more. Sutil was in fine form during the first half of the year. He finished 5th in Malaysia and later picked points in six consecutive races but in the second half of the campaign he scored only twice.
In 2011, Sutil picked fewer points than in the previous year but moved up to the 9th place in the final standings which was the best result in his career so far. Despite solid results, Sutil was often criticized because of his inconsistent performances. That’s why the team opted not to renew Adrian’s contract and the German driver was left without a drive in 2012.
The year of 2012 was definitely one to forget for Adrian. He received 18 months suspended prison sentence and was fined with 200 thousand euros after an accident in the nightclub in Shanghai, before the 2011 Chinese Grand Prix when he hit Eric Lux with a champagne glass.
Return to Force India and one F1 season with Sauber
A bit surprisingly, Sutil returned to Force India team in 2013, replacing Nico Hulkenberg. Again, Adrian’s results were fickle. The best result was the 5th place in Monaco Grand Prix, while at the end of the campaign he was 13th in the standings, just behind his teammate Paul Di Resta, which wasn’t enough to convince team officials to offer him a new contract.
However, Sutil quickly found new engagement. He signed with Sauber team, one of the all-time outsiders in Formula 1, and the results, as it was expected, were poor – no points, seven retirements with 11th places in Australia and Hungary. At the end of the campaign, Sauber announced that Sutil will be replaced for the following year.
Reserve driver in Williams in 2015
Probably the last opportunity to make an impact in Formula 1, Sutil had in 2015 when he became a reserve driver in Williams team. He was a backup to Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa but never got a chance to race.
In January of 2016, Sutil was released from his duties with Williams and left Formula 1. He failed to find a new engagement and effectively ended his career.