New Delhi:The agony of seeing their maiden Formula One points slipping through fingers notwithstanding, Force India has every reason to feel proud about the Chinese Grand Prix, its German driver Adrian Sutil said.
Starting a lowly 18th on the grid, Sutil cut through the mid-field maelstrom and rose as high as sixth with just five laps to go in the rain-lashed Shanghai International Circuit.
In an eerie resemblance to his Monaco race last year, Sutil looked destined to break Force India's F1 duck when he aquaplaned off and hit the tyre wall to see all his hopes go up in smoke.
The heartbreak notwithstanding, Sutil said the team can take enough pride from its Shanghai show.
"Our performance was really very good and we should all be very proud of this race," said the youngster.
Sutil had started with a light fuel load but the team changed strategy in the early laps behind the safety car by bringing him in and giving him more fuel.
Once the race finally got going he pitted again on lap 19 and filled up to run to the flag in what was in effect a one-stop strategy.
"It was a risk to go on one-stop, because I stopped very early. I was very light at the beginning and then under the safety car we went into the pits and just filled it up. We knew it would have been tight on the tyres, but the grip in the corners was enough to stay in a good position," Sutil said.
"On the straights, it was sometimes hard to keep it on the circuit. You never knew what was going to happen because the car went to the left or the right. With six laps to go I hit another patch of water and ended up in the wall. It was very disappointing," he rued.
Looking back at the race, Sutil said it was fun taking on the McLarens of Heikki Kovalainen and Lewis Hamilton in an equal fight.
"Yes it was good! I made a good pass on Kovalainen when he went out of the pits, so I could take his position. Then I was behind Lewis, and in the end he was behind me. It was nice to just race the guys in the front there. We had really good pace, so that was promising," Sutil said.
Sutil believes the wet race offered him an opportunity to prove his mettle and he would rather take risk than just bring home the car.
"I'm pleased that it happened like this. We could have done a safe run, changed tyres, and maybe we would have been in the back. But that's not the way we want it to go, we had to take a risk because we know that we're good in the wet.
"Of course we were unlucky and it wasn't possible to bring it home, but sometimes it's just bad luck if you hit a patch of water. We couldn't do anything about it," he said. Looking ahead, Sutil said though it would not rain in Bahrain, he was looking forward to a good race there.
"We'll get a few updates on the car which will help us get a better performance in qualifying. But again it's going to be difficult. We're at the back of the field right now, and we have to take our chances, like we did here, and try to move on. Development is going on, and we're getting new upgrades for the next few races, hopefully it's enough to progress," Sutil said.