Adrian Sutil is optimistic that Force India can maintain its strong early season form and remain a top-10 runner throughout the 2010 championship. The team has scored points at every race, with Sutil's fifth place at Sepang last weekend its best result of the year so far, and the young German has reached Q3 at all three grands prix. He says no reason why Force India cannot hang on to its current position in the pecking order and fight with Renault to be "best of the rest" behind the top four squads.
"I think we did a good job over the winter and the first races have been very competitive," said Sutil. "Our car is able to run consistently in the top 10 and we're definitely a strong team this year. It's just good to see where we are. We can fight against the big teams. It's not easy, but it's possible sometimes and we just have to take our chances.
"In dry conditions it's always very close around eighth and 12th and, with a good lap in Q2, we can make it. It's tight, but it's possible. In the rain, of course, there's no question, we are really strong. We are also planning a few upgrades now in the next couple of races. If we do that and can continue that trend during the season, we should be a consistent Q3 runner."
Sutil lost out to Renault's Robert Kubica at the start in Malaysia and was unable to get back on terms. But he believes there is little to choose between Force India and Renault on outright pace.
"In the second stint, I had the feeling I was a bit faster, maybe just a few seconds in 20 laps or something," said Sutil. "But we are very equal. I still think we need to find two tenths per lap to beat them."
He also thinks Force India must find a way of matching Renault's impressively fast race starts. "Off the line, we have to improve a little bit," said Sutil. "This year Renault is making incredible starts. We have to focus on that. We're not bad, but we can improve."
He admitted that reliability was a slight concern, too, with his car suffering an early engine issue in Australia and teammate Tonio Liuzzi being stopped by a throttle problem just 12 laps into the Sepang race.
"We have to focus a bit on it," Sutil acknowledged. "It shouldn't happen that two times in a row we have a reliability problem."