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?â??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. Di Resta and Hulk for me.

    Although Sutil has done a good job this year and in the past 3 years he’s been evolving as a top driver, he needs to move on to a different team to gain more experience and further his value.
    I also believe that HĂĽlkenberg might outperform Di Resta but there’s only one way to find out..

  2. Tarun R (@tarun323) said on 2nd December 2011, 14:40

    See guys more than potential of new comers, focus on the car capabilities.. Sutil knows the car & team in n out… at times these factors play alot to be winning as a team.. Nico n Paul will not be able to contribute as much as Sutil did.. Reason being, he had a handful experience on how to deal with probs in car n how to get thins done within th team. Nico & Paul, both new comers will have to learn n experience what Sutil did in 4 yrs.. Todays competition we cannot afford to hv 2 new comers, u need a senior there guiding every race.. Sutil did that role efficiently.. am just hoping the cars are highly efficient with 2012 specs, so that both new comers ease into the car with the season start date..

    • Skett (@skett) said on 3rd December 2011, 21:53

      I can’t help but feel that a lot of people overestimate the amount of input that the drivers have in the development of the cars.
      The simple fact is that all of the teams will have smart guys who can explain everything to the drivers if need be (and will probably have to many times to even the most experienced). Whilst I don’t doubt that a driver will improve a bit better at setting the car up or steering the development, it would surely be those with more talent and willingness in this area that would be the most useful, especially with the limited testing.

      And honestly, I don’t believe we really know who is good and who isn’t in the paddock in this area

  3. Without a doubt Paul and Hulkenberg; both have already shown more talent than Sutil who has had fives year’s worth of chances. Sutil never really bothered Fisi all that much, he beat Liuzzi but it is Liuzzi and this year Paul has definitely outshone Sutil even if his latter half did pick up. There’s a reason Sutil hasn’t progressed in all this time and apparently he’s not that great on the technical side of him and if FI really want to progress they should gamble on talent that may actually take them places. I’m a Ferrari fan and I’d love either the Hulk or Paul in the red car one day so I think a team like FI would be mad to turn clear talent away.

  4. Alianora La Canta (@alianora-la-canta) said on 2nd December 2011, 16:01

    Force India can’t lose with this selection, but I think di Resta/Hulkenburg would be marginally better than Sutil/di Resta or Sutil/Hulkenburg for 2012. di Resta’s ready to pick up the team leadership reins, Hulkenburg’s ready for his second attempt at F1 racing and going to Williams (or Renault) could be the making of Sutil. Adrian’s experience would benefit Force India in the short term but in the long run would stymie development, leading to an unbalanced and vulnerable team.

    If neither Williams nor Renault hires the driver who loses out in the Force India battle (whichever one of the three it is), I will be seriously wondering what is wrong with the thought processes of team principals these days.

  5. vho (@) said on 2nd December 2011, 16:15

    Bring Mika Hakkinen back!!!

  6. tflb1 (@) said on 2nd December 2011, 17:05

    Sutil and Di Resta. If Sutil finds a better seat (which I think he deserves) then Di Resta and Hulkenberg, but I think that would be a terrible line-up. Hulkenberg didn’t impress me at all in 2010

  7. sid_prasher (@) said on 2nd December 2011, 18:43

    I have no basis to feel that Nico will do better than Sutil! Sutil did in fact clearly out score Paul.

    If forced to drop some one – i will drop Paul…but I will prefer the trio to remain together…

  8. TommyB (@tommyb89) said on 2nd December 2011, 18:59

    Karthikeyan and Chandhok

  9. Paul and Niko ftw!

  10. Pavel (@pchun) said on 2nd December 2011, 21:44

    There has never been a champion in the history of f1 who wasn’t able to do quick laps, it’s the first requirement a driver needs to meet and thats why it’s talked about.

    Actually there was such a champion. In 1984 Alain Prost thrashed Niki Lauda in quali. Lauda’s average starting position was about 8th place but he still managed to win that championship. But of course nowadays winning a championship Vettel-style is much more likely.

  11. Slr (@slr) said on 2nd December 2011, 21:45

    I voted for Di Resta and Hulkenberg as long as Sutil gets a seat somewhere else. I never used to think highly of Sutil, everytime he looked good in one race, he’d look rubbish in the next race. But in second half of this season, he has started to catch my attention, and now I’m fully convinced he deserves a seat in Formula One. I only voted against Sutil because both Di Resta and Hulkenberg deserve and need the chance to develop and gain more experience.

  12. Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 2nd December 2011, 22:31

    di Resta and Hulkenburg.

    Maybe Sutil and one of these would be a better combination in terms of points. But I firmly believe in the future. Sutil’s been at FI for as long as Hamilton has been at McLaren and done little other than spells of decency. Sutil’s time in F1 may not be an end, but his time at Force India should be.

  13. realracer (@realracer) said on 2nd December 2011, 22:55

    Sutil has been very strong over the past few races, and Hulkenburg has outpaced Di Resta during a lot of practice sessions.
    So I think that would be a strong line-up.
    Plus a lot of people here have voted to keep Di Resta because he is British.

  14. Miss Chief (@miss-chief) said on 3rd December 2011, 2:46

    I have it on very good authority that Di Resta has the seat but it hasn’t been announced yet. Put it this way, he’s not looking for another seat, Anthony Hamilton isn;t speaking to any other teams either.

  15. UKFan (@) said on 3rd December 2011, 3:37

    I just prefer Di Resta and Hulk.

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