Who should drive for Force India in 2012?

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Adrian Sutil, Paul di Resta, Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 2011

Adrian Sutil, Paul di Resta, Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 2011

Force India face a difficult decision over their driver line-up for 2011.

In Adrian Sutil, Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg they have three credible candidates for two race seats.

Should they plump for performance over consistency? Experience over potential? Compare the drivers and cast your vote below.

Adrian Sutil

Sutil enjoyed better form in the second half of 2011 than the first, being one of several drivers who raised their game as they became more familiar with the Pirelli tyres.

His season got off to a shaky start as he was often out-qualified by di Resta. He turned that around in the final races and ended up edging his team mate 10-9 over the course of the year.

Sutil is being compared against two drivers who have had only one season in Formula 1 so it’s worth reminding ourselves of his form in his debut season. Driving for the short-lived Spyker team in 2007, points were seldom on offer but eighth place in the rain-soaked Japanese Grand Prix put him on the board.

He compared well against Christijan Albers, who was dropped halfway through the year and Sakon Yamamoto, who spent the final seven races with the team.

The team became Force India the following year and Sutil has remained with them ever since. Only Felipe Massa has been with his present team longer than Sutil.

They are well-placed to judge his strengths and weaknesses and decided whether the experience of Sutil is worth trading against the potential of his two team mates.

Paul di Resta

Di Resta impressed in his first season of F1, not least by completing more laps than any other driver.

Di Resta wasn’t just dependable. He was also quick, taking sixth on the grid for his home race at Silverstone – Force India’s best qualifying result of the year – and was especially impressive on the streets of Singapore, bringing the car home in sixth place.

It’s no secret that the ultimate measures of performance were tilted in Sutil’s favour at the end of the season: he out-scored di Resta 42 points to 27, finished ahead ten times versus six, and spent 562 laps ahead of his team mate compared to 479 for di Resta.

But this is hardly an emphatic margin of superiority for a five-year veteran of the sport versus a first-timer. Particularly when Force India’s late-season strategy of splitting strategies between their drivers is taken into account – a policy that ensured the team collected vital points for the constructors championship but, as with di Resta in India, could leave one of their drivers vulnerable.

Nico Hulkenberg

Nico H???lkenberg, Fernando Alonso, Interlagos, 2010

It was no reflection on Hulkenberg’s ability that he failed to keep his place at Williams in 2011. The scarcity of sponsors’ logos on the FW33, aside from the PDVSA stickers arriving courtesy of Pastor Maldonado, tells you all you need to know about what happened there.

Hulkenberg’s 2010 record is dismissed by the unenlightened as ‘one fluky pole position’. This is nonsense – not least because his season-defining performance at a damp Interlagos produced not one but two lap times which the likes of Sebastian Vettel were unable to better for pole position.

Hulkenberg made his mark earlier in the season with another notable (though less celebrated) qualifying performance in the rain at Sepang, lining up fifth, half a second ahead of Rubens Barrichello.

As the season progress he was increasingly on a par with Barrichello in the races too, and scored points in six of the last ten races.

Small wonder Force India snapped him up as he slipped through Williams’ fingers, and have taken every reasonable opportunity to give him mileage in practice next year.

Who should drive for Force India in 2012?

Who do you think should drive for Force India next year? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

Who should drive for Force India in 2012?

  • Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta (24%)
  • Adrian Sutil and Nico Hulkenberg (15%)
  • Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg (59%)
  • Some other combination (2%)

Total Voters: 363

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129 comments on Who should drive for Force India in 2012?

  1. disjunto (@disjunto) said on 2nd December 2011, 12:19

    I want all 3 of them to have a drive next season, they’ve all impressed at some point in the last 2 years and all deserve a seat. Although I’m expecting FI to drop Di Resta unfortunately.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 2nd December 2011, 12:52

      I’m expecting FI to drop Di Resta unfortunately

      Nico Hulkenberg was offered a contract with Virgin this year for the seat that ultimately went to Jerome d’Ambrosio. It wasn’t widely advertised until he parted ways with his manager, Willi Weber. Weber said that Hulkenberg was offered the contract, but turned it down because they felt that racing against and being beaten by Timo Glock would damage Hulkenberg’s career. As of Interlagos, there were five German drivers on the grid; Hulkenberg would make six. Germany has more drivers than any other nation represented on the grid. So you can understand why racing against Glock was unappealing to Nico Hulkenberg. If what was true then remains true now, Hulkenberg may be equally-apprehensive about racing against Adrian Sutil, though he has to balance that against never racing again – Kimi Raikkonen and Michael Schumacher might be able to make comebacks after two (or three) years out of the sport, but Hulkenberg will not be able to. Especially if his reason for rejecting offers from other teams is his unwillingness to race certain other drivers for fear of hurting his career prospects.

      • Proesterchen (@proesterchen) said on 2nd December 2011, 14:33

        If you look at Virign’s season, I’d say they made the right move. No one was going to shine in that car. They even managed to be beaten by ‘broken-by-the-first-corner’-HRTs!

        The only redeeming value of this enterprise, after two full seasons in competition, is that they allow for Timo Glock to earn a living driving F1 cars. However slow they may be.

        One can only hope they will add to that with the McLaren hook-up!

        • TheBrav3 said on 2nd December 2011, 16:54

          Nico was right to get rid of that ….. willi weber. Both of timo’s team m8’s have given him a run for his money since virgin came along. Lucas di’grassi beat him in a car that had a fuel tank to small to last the race. No one cared. d’ambrosio has no ride for 2012 despite finishing above timo in the championship no one cares. racing for virgin is proffesional suicide and web is a fool for even bringing that option to nico.

  2. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 2nd December 2011, 12:23

    If they get rid of Sutil, they’ll create one of the most promising line-ups in the grid with Hulkenberg and Di Resta. Neither is a “crash kid” kind of rookie, and both are very quick.

    Sutil had his chance. He never impressed me, to be honest. Fisichella was usually faster than him when they were team mates, and now a rookie comes along and puts his future with the team in doubt. That’s not good sign for a 5 year veteran, specially if there’s another very quick youngster waiting in the wings.

    • Hairs (@hairs) said on 2nd December 2011, 12:33

      @fer-no65 My thoughts as well. Sutil has managed to have a good last half of the year with some help on the strategy front. That’s not a great state of affairs after 5 years in the sport.
      Last year he was getting plaudits for “eliminating the rookie mistakes” – after 4 years of embarrassment. Mistakes his new rookie teammate has already eliminated in the space of one season.

  3. coefficient (@coefficient) said on 2nd December 2011, 12:27

    Me! LOL!

    Seriously, it would be a shame for any of the FI drivers to fall off the F1 radar. This year’s race drivers have both demonstrated their worth. Sutil did a solid job to beat Di Resta overall which is to be expected given his experience over Paul.

    Paul got close enough to Sutil to justify a second season in which to consolidate and improve and I think if the pairing stays the same I think Paul might just show Sutil a clean pair of heals in 2012. There is something merciless and relentless about his character whereas I think Sutil can let his chin drop from time to time which is a weakness.

    The Hulk has been dominant in every category en route to F1. His underwhelming debut F1 season can be explained by the fact he had to learn F1 in a car that was difficult to set up. He got their in the end though and I’m certain he’d ruin Barrichello nowadays if they were paired up again.

    Keep Di Resta for definite but make sure whoever isn’t in the sister car gets in a Williams. We need these guys to come through the ranks, not retire prematurely to IRL or sportscars. That said, if next years Williams is a peach I’ll be wishing Di Resta was in it!!

  4. Grammo (@grammo) said on 2nd December 2011, 12:40

    I think Di Resta + Sutil would be best for Force India development.
    I think Di Resta + Hulk would be the best entertainment.

  5. I voted DiResta and Sutil, just because Hulkenberg wasn’t exactly impressive over all of 2010, but he had highlights I’ve yet to see from another newcomer and can’t wait to see him active for another season.

    Reading through this post I’m completely confused again, FI really do have an immense luxury problem. I don’t really care about what happens, as long as all three get to drive for a proper team.

  6. ME4ME (@me4me) said on 2nd December 2011, 13:12

    went for Sutil+Hulkenberg. Been thinking about this a couple of days .. 1 thing that is clear for me is that Sutil has to stay. He provides the team with experience and solid points. The number two should in my oppinion be Hulkenberg. Di Resta was good this year, but i don’t know .. he didnt really shine in the last couple of races. It’s not how you start the season, it’s how you end which is important for next year. I’d give Hulkenberg a change.

  7. hi. i think Robert Kubica – Sutil

  8. or Robert Kubica – Di Resta

  9. rob73 (@rob73) said on 2nd December 2011, 13:33

    The line-up should be Di Resta and Hulkenberg. I would think that Mercedes would like this to happen, so they can pick one or both to graduate to the works team, if good enough.

    Sutil improved over the season and beat a rookie. Was his improved performance down to getting to know the tyres or the realisation that his job was on the line?

    Hulkenberg and/or Di Resta could become one of the top line drivers in the future, so deserve their shot at F1.

    I think that Sutil may end up at Williams. A change may do him good and perhaps we may see him flourish. Make or break time for Adrian.

  10. rdpunk (@) said on 2nd December 2011, 13:44

    It’s a shame that every combination a really good driver is going to miss out. I voted for Di Resta and Hulkenberg just because I feel they both could do really well with a second season under there belt. Di Resta had a very stable first season and can build on that, whilst Hulkenberg had a good first season, even on pole for Brazil, only to get thrown out the car just because a driver with more cash wants a seat. Sutil is a good driver, like many he struggled with getting to grips with the PZero’s and once he got over the hurdle, he was good not great but many drivers didn’t do great. It would be a risk as many have said having two young drivers in the car but they are both hungry and both are quick but hopefully a good backroom staff could help with interpritating the telematry and such to help the R&D. Sutil doesn’t deserve to be kicked out of F1, he still has pace and he’s relitivly young and deserves another drive somewhere, Williams most likley but I can’t help but feel that Lotus (Renault) might have his name in the hat as well.

  11. icemangrins (@icemangrins) said on 2nd December 2011, 13:51

    I went for Nico and Adrian combination; something I have in common with the other 18 people who voted for the same duo.

  12. Mads (@mads) said on 2nd December 2011, 13:59

    For FI I think the best would be to take Sutil and Di Resta, but as a fan, I must say I am getting bored with Sutil.
    He is a good driver, but not great, and he just seem to have gone stuck in the midfield not really doing anything spectacular or interesting. Di Resta and Hulkenberg might not be as good, yet, but they could become. For that reason I would like to see both get another shot, and hence I voted for Di Resta and Hulkenberg.

  13. rajeshkankavlikar (@rajeshkankavlikar) said on 2nd December 2011, 14:10

    Force India F1 – To Adrian Sutil I donno if he will be driving for the team next season. This might have been his last race with our team. But he drove like a Hero for our team from the very 1st day & was a special P6 at Brazil. He drove with all his heart & will be always remembered. I dont want him to leave our team. Feeling very sad :-(

  14. rajeshkankavlikar (@rajeshkankavlikar) said on 2nd December 2011, 14:11

    Force India F1 – To Adrian Sutil I donno if he will be driving for the team next season. This might have been his last race with our team. But he drove like a Hero for our team from the very 1st day & was a special P6 at Brazil. He drove with all his heart & will be always remembered. I dont want him to leave our team. Feeling very sad :-(.. I want Sutil & the Hulk ofr Force India F1 2012

  15. Proesterchen (@proesterchen) said on 2nd December 2011, 14:20

    To me, Sutil and Hülkenberg are the best drivers out of the three.

    It’s fascinating to see someone of Sutil’s abilities (probably not WC material, but still top third of the field IMHO) and consistent sponsor backing kicked out of a team, and potentially out of F1 after this year.

    The most pressing question to me seems whether Paul lost out to Adrian based on experience (curable) or talent. (not so much)

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