Should Force India have Indian drivers?

Posted on Author Keith Collantine

Adrian Sutil, Force India F1 Team, Bahrain, 2008, 470150

Hoshiyar had this to say about Adrian Sutil in a recent discussion:

To have Force India without an Indian pilot is ridiculous. Narain [Karthikeyan] can take the bull by its horn and come in front of fisi each and every time. To not even have tried him for the race seat?ů‘ťľ?™ its clear where Vijay Mallya?ů‘ťľ‘šůs priority lie – making money. He?ů‘ťľ‘šůs just playing with the sentiments of people here.

Do you think Force India should have an Indian F1 driver?

Despite the team’s name all of Force India’s drivers are European: Adrian Sutil (Germany), Christian Klien (Austria), Giancarlo Fisichella and Vitantonio Liuzzi (Italy)

I don’t think the team should have an Indian driver just because they’re an Indian team. But even if they were to, the question is who?

Narain Karthikeyan is an obvious candidate, but he’s had a chance at F1 and got dropped – first by Jordan in 2005, and then from his Williams test seat last year. He’s struggled to make an impression in A1 Grand Prix where the competition is much weaker, and I don’t think his nationality should give him a free pass into F1.

Karun Chandhok has been tipped for a move to Force India, possibly as soon as next year. He won one round of the GP2 series last year but still shows a lot of immaturity in his driving. He spun away a potential win in the GP2 Asia support race at the Malaysian Grand Prix while the field was behind the safety car.

So I’m not convinced Force India needs an Indian driver. But what I find odd is that the team is called Force India and yet is based in Northamptonshire…

Force India F1 Team information

31 comments on “Should Force India have Indian drivers?”

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  1. I agree that they don’t need an indian driver just because they are an indian team. But I can understand how they feel over there… I think brasilians would be really pissed off if someone started a F1 team called "Go Brasil" with no brasilian drivers at all. And I bet the english gentlemen of this forum would very much ridicule a team called "Force England" with no english drivers… Then again, Brasil’s and England’s drivers tradition is much different from India’s, but it all has to start somewhere.
    I still believe they will have their indian driver when the time is right, but until then, it is indeed a weird situation for indians.

  2. I don’t think they should.

    Ferrari is not ‘Force Italy’, but it’s almost like that, and they haven’t had an italian driver for years! and they are the most successful team in F1 history and specially in this decade.

    Also, India is not a country know by their drivers qualities… Only Narain reached F1 and he was outpaced by Tiago Monteiro very often if not always… If you have, say, someone like Kubica, who’s the first and only Pole driver, then i would agree… but Narain isn’t Kubica… He’s a consistent driver and that’s all…

  3. I agree that just coz the team’s name is Force India it should have an Indian driver, that is just dumb.¬† F1 is the epitome of racing and you just cant let bias rule over development.

    As far as Indian drivers, Narian is pretty good.  The problem according to me is his age and the fact that he messed up the opportunities Jordan gave him.  I dont think Tiago was better in the Jordan but he did manage a podium in the famous US Gp of 2005.  Narian has almost single handedly taken the Indian A1 gp team a couple of notches.  He even won a race this season.

    Wrt to what Force India has to do, I think the idea of an experienced driver and a young but formidable driver is a perfect combo.  Look at the way Renault came from the back of the field with Trulli and Alonso.  It that point of view Fisi and Sutil seem like very good choices according to me.

  4. If Narain Karthikeyan is the best driver India has to offer, then unequivocally no!

    To let nationalism blind Force India would be a great shame. Alain Prost tried to build a French superteam and he drove the Ligier team into the ground in the process.

  5. I thought Force India was called that in part because as a logo Force India is like "F1", check it.

    I’m probably wrong but hey, cute little observation.

  6. Why does it have to be a driver?

    Why can’t a team develop engineers, race strategist or all the other careers in F1? I think as it is most of the "peons" in F1 are English. I would like to see more diverse paddocks.

  7. Also, Emerson Fittipaldi ruined his last five years of Formula 1 racing when he tried to make a brazilian team, and even though he got slightly better results than Prost’s namesake team, he never won a race again…

    For this, I agree with¬†all of you:¬†nationalism is a good thing as long as it doesn’t blind you… So, Mallya is showing how clever he is to wait until an indian¬†driver worth of the seat¬†comes up… I’m sure that, when he or she comes, he’ll be happy to give him or her the opportunity…

  8. Ok… first up… I think it is a big enough deal that there is an Indian team on the grid… and that simply means that if by some freak chance of nature Force India was to win a grand prix (Monaco anyone?)… The Indian national anthem would be heard for the first time on an F1 Podium… if you ask me that would be a big deal… coming to the comment made by Hoshiar… I think the international nature of F1 is totally lost in that comment… you want to see Indian drivers racing for an Indian team… then you should be watching A1 and not F1…

  9. Robert McKay
    13th April 2008, 21:44

    If Narain’s so good then how come his mediocre brother keeps turning up in A1GP? I’m sorry, I’ve only seen¬†a couple of good¬†performances from him, maximum. He might not be a bad driver, but there’s nothing they’d get from him that Fisi is not already giving them. Fisi is one of F1’s greatest enigmas – did very little in a top car but always gets more than he ought to¬†out of a tail-end car.

    I don’t really see the point of the Indian connection, other than for money. An Indian driver in an "Indian" car would make Mallya a lot more money, I suspect – to belittle him for taking the best driver to push the team forward the most instead of cashing in on the obvious nationalism link is faintly ridiculous. I think Mallya’s doing a considerably better job than Midland and Spyker did, and good luck to the man – it’s his money he’s putting up.

  10. Hello Keith,
    Correct me if i’m wrong, but as i understand it, ForceIndia is still partially owned by Michiel Mol (ex-Spyker) so it’s not 100% an Indian team.

  11. I’m not sure about that, but certainly they’ve got a $120m budget this year thanks to Mallya and he’s calling the shots.

  12. werner – you are correct -from the Force India site –
    Michiel currently co owns the Force India Formula 1 Team with Dr Vijay Mallya.

  13. Bruce McLaren
    14th April 2008, 1:00

    I don’t think it is fair to say "an Indian team mustn’t dictate which pilots get seats based on race¬†– that is biased". Folks have been buying seats with their advertising cash for as long as I can remember (and fortunately less is happening this year (if at all?)) – why can’t you accept people ‘buying’ a seat with their nationality? I think it is scum, but to think for 1 minute that seats are handed out to the fastest and most deserving is naive and foolish. Skill has more to do with your PR/management team than it does in your racecraft (Ralph, anyone?).

  14. Wait until an Indian GP hits the schedule for pressure on Mallya to sign an Indian driver. I’d rather see a new driver than Narain, we know he can’t cut it. When the force India deal was imminent Narain acted like it was inevitable he’d get a seat. Good for the Dr. that he hasn’t caved to the pressure…..yet.

  15. I may be wrong, but I could swear I remember Mallya making some comments in our favorite publication- F1 Racing- that he was comitted to putitng an Indian driver on the grid for Force India, but would seek out one and develop them from karting in same manner that McLaren supported Hamilton over his pre-F1 years.

    I think it would be a huge marketing/PR coup if Force India could do this- Mallya is seemlingly seeking to grow the popularity of F1 in India, and putting an Indian driver in a race seat will obviously help this along. In the meantime, I think he’d be best off to stick with his current drivers and let them develop the team and gain some points. I’m sure that if he brings along his Indian star and has a quality car/team, he’ll go alot further than sticking one of the drivers mentioned above in the current car and having the Indian people see the team at the back of the pack.

  16. Hoshiyar, I’ve got two words for you: Karun Chandhok.
    Sutil will go one way or the other by the end of this season: either to a better team (if he returns to form) or to another formulae (i.e. out of F1 if things stay the way they are).¬† Expect Vijay to give¬†Karun a shot beside Fisi.¬† That should be a good test of the youngster’s form.

  17. NO. It’s bad enough that they named a team after a country, bringing with it all the associated jingoism.

    If this ( is what comes of finishing 12th and 19th, and leading a stricken McLaren, then imagine what having an Indian driver would do. As it is, the practice and qualifying reports in the paper I read mostly mentions just Force India.

    Stick to the Italians and the Germans,¬†please…

  18. "But what I find odd is that the team is called Force India and yet is based in Northamptonshire…"
    Not odd at all. If I was buying a F1 team, I’d prefer to keep it located next to Silverstone.
    Calling it Force India, brings in the potential revenue of millions of fans buying merchandise from India.
    Calling it Force Milton Keynes or Force Northamptonshire makes it sound like a commercial radio station.

    …and I don’t think they should pick an Indian driver. Better to get a driver that will give the teams points and establish them with sponsorship in F1, rather than go the way of Pacific Racing and rely on paying drivers to keep the team going.

  19. if there is an Indian driver better¬†(or¬†better¬†prospect) than Adrian Sutil or Tonio Liuzzi, or more experienced then Fisichella, then yes, they should get an Indian driver … I do not think there is in Indian driver who could take Fisi’s place right now. But if Sutil’s 2008 results are what is expected of their no. 2 driver, than I wonder¬†whether Karthikeyan or Chandhok would do much worse …

  20. Drivers should be chosen according to their talent and abilities, not nationality.

    I can understand why the Indian people would want drivers to match the team, but surely they can see that it’s better to have a good foreign driver who will help improve the team rather than a mediocre Indian driver who will simply do his best.

    The team is not in  a position where they can afford to accommodate people just for the sake of it, if they did then they would soon be looking for new owners Рas it is, they can perhaps think about taking on an Indian test driver in a few years if they manage to stick it out.

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