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. forcef1 (@forcef1) said on 3rd December 2011, 8:49

    definitelyy SUTIL and DI RESTA..the team is performing well.. i find it really stupid to chuck sutil out when he’s performed so well this year..they’ve given me confidence that FI can perform well and be a good mid field team at least..
    Nico..well he deserves a seat but i think Sutil deserves a place at FI in 2012 more than him coz he’s performed really well in the 2nd half!

  2. Shimks (@shimks) said on 3rd December 2011, 12:26

    Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg.

    On another note, I had a brainwave in bed this morning. Renault should snap up Barrichello. Kimi is reknowned to be of little use in regards to technical feedback. Barrichello is renowned to be excellent.

  3. Difficult… Hulk and Paul, but I would hope that Sutil get a cockpit for next season.

  4. Marco_ferrari said on 3rd December 2011, 13:35

    Just one sentence – Sutil is and will stay terribly underrated, because it seems that whatever he does, he just can t receive a level of respect what he deserves… :(

  5. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 3rd December 2011, 19:31

    I’ve gone with Di Resta and Hulkenberg. For me, Sutil is good, but not that good. If Pirelli bring along completely different compounds next year, what’s to say it won’t take him 10 races to get up to scratch with them? Admittedly, the gap won’t be as huge as it was between Bridgestone to Pirelli but it is a bit of a concern.

    Sutil deserves a seat in F1 but I think Force India should look further afield. They finished as well as they could do this season but now it’s time to take the plunge. It’s one hell of a risk and there is only one way to go.

    • marco_ferrari said on 4th December 2011, 9:11

      And even with his tyre handicap in first races, he easily beat Di Resta in the standings…

    • tim (@tribo32) said on 6th December 2011, 19:21

      whats to say that he wont instantly like the tyres? you cant make assumptions like that without any evidene

      another thing is that sutil is better than hulkenberg, apart from brazil and malaysia which other races can you remember that hulkenberrg shone at.

      malaysia was becuse both ferraris and mclaren didnt go out early enough to set good times and lost out so he should have been 9th.

      in Brazil he had a wet set up. the team denied it but the fact is, is that he finished 8th in a car that was 1 second faster in qualifying….
      nowhere else in the season did the williams show such good promise in the wet in 2010 and to beat barichello by 2.5 seconds at one race when throughout the season he was consistantly about 2 tenths slower than barichello

      • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 6th December 2011, 20:39

        @tribo32

        he finished 8th in a car that was 1 second faster in qualifying

        Because on a drying track he did better than anyone else at getting heat into his tyres.

        in Brazil he had a wet set up

        And your proof for that is?

  6. themagicofspeed (@) said on 4th December 2011, 23:12

    Di Riesta, and i think Hulkenberg deserves a second chance.
    As previously mentioned, there is one condition..i dont care what happens to Sutil, but i do want to see Rubens in a race seat next year so if it means having Rubens and Di Riesta then so be it. It would be good to see Rubhino retire at the end of his 20th season, doing what he loves.

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