Force India Formula One driver Adrian Sutil says Italian team mate Giancarlo Fisichella has made him stronger for the season ahead.
"Having Giancarlo as a team mate last season really did help me," the German said in a team interview ahead of the track debut of the new VJM02 car at the Jerez track in southern Spain on Sunday.
"Before I did have good race drivers with me, but they were not race winners. Giancarlo is a strong driver, he won races and finished on the podium a lot of times, so it was a real challenge for me to be against him."
Sutil, whose team failed to score a point last year, struggled with the car in 2008 while Jordan and Renault veteran Fisichella performed better.
However the German said he learned from watching the Roman's approach and had closed the gap by the end of the season.
"He didn't tell me any big secrets or anything, but I could see how he worked," he said.
"It was very important to be on the same level, which I think I achieved, so now I think if I have to race against other experienced drivers, I will feel stronger mentally."
Sutil, who will be starting his third season in Formula One after making his race debut with Force India's predecessors Spyker in 2007, said his main aim is to finish all the races without problems.
Force India have switched from Ferrari engines to a Mercedes-McLaren package.