Posted: 05/09/07 01:25 PM
One member of the Etihad Aldar Spyker Formula One team will feel very at home at Barcelona next weekend, and he certainly won’t have any problems ordering tapas in a restaurant in the evenings.
Adrian Sutil may have a German passport, but he grew up speaking Spanish, thanks to his Latin American heritage. His mother is German-born, but his musician father Jorge originally hails from Uruguay.
As such, Adrian has become the first driver with Uruguayan roots to race in F1 in the modern era. In fact, the country has only enjoyed a minimal involvement in Grand Prix racing over the decades. Only three very obscure drivers were seen briefly in the fifties, when it was relatively easy for them to find rides in the Argentine GP in nearby Buenos Aires.
Since then the nearest the country came was with Gonzalo Rodriguez, who was a star in F3000 before tragically losing his life in a Champcar accident at Laguna Seca. Rodriguez was a contemporary and friend of Juan Pablo Montoya, who gave Colombian F1 fans someone to cheer. Now Adrian has done the same for Uruguay, even if it is only by proxy.
Adrian has already seen signs of the increased interest in his father’s home country.
‘Now I’m getting many e-mails from Uruguay,’ he says. ‘They’re very, very happy, and they really support me. I think we’ll see a few fans from there at some of the race tracks this year! There has been a lot of media and press interest.
‘I still have family there. I’ve only been there once, when I was 12 or something, so I can’t remember too much. But I want to go there after the Brazilian GP in October for one week, just to see my family.’
He certainly feels as at home speaking Spanish with the media.
‘My parents separated when I was 13, and I lived with my father then. And he always spoke Spanish to me, and he still speaks to me in Spanish, even if I answer in German. So my childhood was more in the South American style.’
In fact his background is even more cosmopolitan than it first appears – his ancestry includes input from all over Latin America and Europe.
‘Adrian’s grandfather was Brazil and his grandmother from Argentina,’ explains Sutil Sr. ‘His great grandfather was Italian, and great grandmother was from Bruges in Belgium. So we’re an international family! We speak German, Spanish, Italian… It’s a good combination.’