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Heartbreak for Sutil, Force India

April 19, 2009 17:37 IST

Running as high as sixth, Adrian Sutil aquaplaned off the circuit with just five laps to go as Force India came tantalisingly close to securing its maiden Formula One points in the rain-lashed Chinese Grand Prix before faltering in the closing stages in Shanghai on Sunday.

The spectre of last year's Monaco race came to haunt Sutil, who started a lowly 18th on the grid and survived numerous intrigues to display impeccable racecraft and rise to the sixth place. 

It all, however, proved too good to last.

In Monaco, it was Kimi Raikkonen who crashed into Sutil's back to deny him his maiden F1 points with the side and at the Shanghai International Circuit on Sunday, Sutil had only the rain god to blame as he acquaplaned off the track and hit the wall.  

Teammate Giancarlo Fisichella finished 14th. 

In what was the most competitive performance by the outfit this season, Sutil pitted and refuelled on lap four under the first safety car period and then again on lap 19, which allowed him to move steadily up the field until he was fighting with defending world champion Lewis Hamilton for sixth. 

Rain increased just minutes from the end and, on worn tyres, Sutil was unable to catch his car from aquaplaning off the track and into the barriers.

"I had prepared myself for a hard race and that's exactly what it was," a shattered Sutil later said. 

"We took a risk with the strategy with a very early stop and it was a long way to go with one set of tyres. Then it started to rain again and it was very hard to keep the car on the circuit. Sometimes even in a straight line in fourth or fifth gear I was struggling with aquaplaning and I was very lucky to keep the car on the circuit for so long," he said. 

"It's a shame - you focus so much and think you can do it, but the car was just out of control at the end. I had the same feeling as Monaco - it's hard to believe when you are in the car and then suddenly you lose it and it's all over from such a great position," added the German. 

Managing to derive some positives out of the show, Sutil said, "You have to get over it, we had a great performance today. It's good for the team and I think we deserved the points, I just feel bad for everyone here. It was a very good strategy call, but that's what we had to do: take a risk." 

Starting 20th, Fisichella also put in a decent performance and graduated up the order to 11th by the midpoint of the race. 

The Italian eventually finished in 14th position overall to consolidate Force India's ninth place in the constructors' championship ahead of defending constructors' champions Ferrari.

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