Bianchi and Sutil vying to be Di Resta’s team mate

F1 Fanatic round-up

Jules Bianchi, Force India, Shanghai, 2012In the round-up: Jules Bianchi and Adrian Sutil are leading the running to partner Paul di Resta at Force India in 2013.


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Two horse race for Force India seat as Buemi is ruled out (James Allen on F1)

“According to veteran Blick writer Roger Benoit, this leaves Jules Bianchi in pole position for the seat [at Force India], with former FI driver Adrian Sutil still a possibility.”

Brawn: Aero changes caused slump (Autosport)

“We made a decision to change the structure of the aero group. We had to wait for [new aero chief] Mike Elliot to join us because we had a notice period he had to fulfil at Lotus.”

“The new engines are not going to be silent…” (Peter Windsor)

“Charlie [Whiting] didn’t elaborate here, but (in a nice counterpoint to what would occur in Singapore 27 years later) legend has it that Nelson [Piquet] had selected the exact rail of Armco barrier against which he was going to crunch the Brabham on its slow-down, victory lap in the event that its suspension was still down. Thanks to Nelson?s judicious use of kerbs, the ride height was legally up by the time he reached the potential accident zone, although Nelson couldn?t resist winding up the Brabham boys who were watching a hazy black-and-white TV monitor on the pit wall. Pretending to steer towards the relevant Armco and then veering away at the last second, he gave them all a cheeky wave as he drove on to the podium and thus to scrutineering. The gesture was lost on everyone else…”


Comment of the day

Will anyone follow Ferrari’s lead in using pull-rod suspension at the front of their car in 2013? Thoughts from @JamieFranklinF1:

I?ve been wondering for the past 12 months what may have happened had McLaren adopted the pull-rod suspension at the front pre-season. Their lower nose would have benefited the design more so than the Ferrari, and with Jenson?s smooth style, it would probably have assisted in heating the front tyres for better qualifying performance.

Had it not been for the alterations in the tyre compounds for 2013, then I reckon McLaren would have gone down this route, considering the driver line-up they had. Now, however, it may be too risky. But if any team are to do it, then they could benefit the most from it.

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On this day in F1

Ten years ago today former F1 team Arrows went into receivership. Their former base in Leafield, Oxfordshire was later home to Super Aguri and is now used by Caterham.

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62 comments on Bianchi and Sutil vying to be Di Resta’s team mate

  1. deanmachine (@deanmachine) said on 2nd January 2013, 0:41

    I don’t see why Force India would pick either of them two drivers. Personally I’d much rather Kovalainen driving my car.

    • Some people would prefer Sutil driving their car :)

    • Sviatoslav Andrushko (@) said on 2nd January 2013, 17:54

      And I’d like to see new blood in F1-racing (Bianchi). That’s because I have feeling that Alonso will end his career soon. So, I’m desperate to find someone who could “replace” Nando:-)

      • sjd1992 said on 2nd January 2013, 23:17

        Antonio Felix da Costa is a name to watch out for if you’re looking for a future star. Expect to see him in a Toro Rosso in 2014 (or earlier if they boot one of their drivers mid-season).

  2. That is a thoroughly interesting interview with Whiting: it’s nice to see the human side of the sports’ regulators and “referees”!

  3. Joey Zyla (@) said on 2nd January 2013, 1:42

    Blick? Really? He referenced Blick?

  4. ShaneB457 (@shaneb12345678910) said on 2nd January 2013, 1:55

    In my opinion, Sutil is a no-no for Force India and I really cant see why he would be appealing. Five years in Formula One and he hasn’t really done enough to deserve that seat for an extended period of time. Bianchi could be a good option but it really depends on what Vijay Mallya wants – a gamble on a young, inexpierienced rookie who could well be a new star in the making, or if he wants a more solid reliable driver who has already had a taste of F1.

    I guess Force India’s main goal is to acheive sixth in the constructors and to possibly acheive a podium or two in the season to come. So for a safe bet, they really cant go wrong with a driver like Kovalainen who has expierience and is sure to deliver consistent results.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 2nd January 2013, 2:13

      In my opinion, Sutil is a no-no for Force India and I really cant see why he would be appealing.

      When Paul di Resta was taken on in 2011, he was placed there with the understanding that he would be assessed for a future drive with a front-runnng team, probably Mercedes or McLaren. In exchange for this, Force India would get a subsidy on their Mercedes engines. However, two years later, vacancies became available at both teams, and di Resta was not promoted to either.

      With the engine formula being revised for 2014, there has been talk that costs will increase exponentially. Since di Resta will not be going to a front-running Mercedes team any time soon – both Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez have multi-year deals with Mercedes and McLaren – he is only really good for the engine subsidy.

      Meanwhile, Jules Bianchi is connected to Ferrari. He could offer Force India the same benefit as di Resta did, provided that the team switched to Ferrari engines rather than continuing with Mercedes. In that case, it would make sense to drop di Resta entirely, and employ both Bianchi and Sutil, with Sutil’s experience serving as a benchmark for Bianchi’s driver development.

      • wsrgo said on 2nd January 2013, 3:06

        @prisoner-monkeys I agree with you. Di Resta’s facing a blind alley, and his only hope would be if Perez has a disastrous season next year for McLaren who drop him, and if the Briton impresses with some strong drives and is consistent throughout, then McLaren might consider taking him for 2013. However, I for one, can’t see it happening, Perez is probably McLaren’s long-term option. Di Resta’s other hope for 2014 will be if he gets in to talks with Ferrari, agree to be a subservient no.2, but I think his former teammate Huelkenberg has got a better chance to replace Massa. Lotus might consider di Resta, but again performance is a prerogative.
        In every way I see, Force India will probably take Bianchi for 2013, get the Ferrari deal on the dotted line, and then replace di Resta with Sutil(or someone else) for 2014.

      • Denis 68 said on 2nd January 2013, 3:10

        Spot on Prisoner Monkeys

        Di Resta has been overlooked by Mercedes and McLaren so there’s little point in Mercedes continuing to provide Force India with discounted Mercedes engines.

        Di Resta now is of little value to the team, (he’s not fast enough to be the team leader anyway) they could run Sutil in 2013. Force India know better than anybody else that Sutil is faster than Di Resta, and Bianchi would provide free or at the very least discounted Ferrari engines from 2014.

        • verstappen (@verstappen) said on 2nd January 2013, 9:32

          To be fair, DiResta was overlooked by Mercedes because Hamilton came available, forcing Schumi into retirement. And Perez at McLaren… Mexican money.
          But that’s all ifs and buts. DiResta is in a bad spot and probably will never make it.

      • celeste (@celeste) said on 2nd January 2013, 3:13

        @prisoner-monkeys that idea has been in my mind since last Di Resta debate… what will happened if Force India decide to actually not giving him a contract? After all why would they wait so much time to confirm a driver that was already driving for them the year before unless they were actually considerin dropping him?

        The deal with Mercedes was that Di Resta will be with Force India until Schumi decide to retired… this already happened and they passing him by… And is not like he is bringing them any money, and he is not turning the field on fire with his results.

        So why not take a driver like Kobayashi or Kovalainen?, or Bianchi who will help them to secure a better deal with Ferrari…

        • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 2nd January 2013, 3:23


          After all why would they wait so much time to confirm a driver that was already driving for them the year before unless they were actually considerin dropping him?

          Force India do like to confirm both their drivers at once. If two drivers are still competing for one seat, then they obviously don’t have a second driver in place, and won’t announce their line-up.

          Furthermore, Vijay Mallya is still in financial trouble. Kingfisher Airlines has lost its licence to fly, still has debts of nearly $1.5 billion, and its lenders are refusing to loan them more money. With his airliner in such a perilous state, Mallya’s liquor empire is not going to be able to sustain it and the team for long, so Force India could be in limbo until the situation is resolved.

        • Girts (@girts) said on 2nd January 2013, 8:28

          @celeste As I understand, di Resta still has strong ties to Mercedes so I guess Force India are keeping him for 2013 to get cheap Mercedes engines (again) or something like that. Even if FI are planning to switch to Ferrari engines in the future, they haven’t done it yet. And it’s possible that Mercedes still want to have sort of a reserve driver or that they still see di Resta as their potential future race winner. Di Resta seems to be fully convinced of staying with team in 2013 himself, too.

      • Journeyer (@journeyer) said on 2nd January 2013, 4:39

        @prisoner-monkeys I like this idea, although I do have doubts as to Sutil’s race-readiness in a comeback. He hasn’t raced anything since leaving F1 last year, so he will be somewhat rusty.

        • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 2nd January 2013, 6:18

          @journeyer – Which just makes Bianchi look better, earning the team the approval and satisfaction of Ferrari.

        • Nickpkr said on 2nd January 2013, 21:35

          Yes lets drop sutil after his best season to cool him down for a year then pick him back and Di resta is the est driver never done anything if Koba lost his seat after a podium the Di Resta is out it will be alguersuari and Bianchi

  5. I Love the Pope said on 2nd January 2013, 2:30

    I didn’t mind Sutil. Quite frankly, I liked him a lot more than Paul Di Resta.

  6. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 2nd January 2013, 3:17

    Found an interesting story late last night: David Brabham believes there is a possibility that the Brabham (team) name could return to Formula 1 some time in the future, provided they can sort out the ownership of the name. There was a previous attempt to get the team back into the sport led by Formtech Composites GmbH, a German company (whose activities I am unsure of) that had previously acquired Super Aguri’s assets when the team was shut down, and still owns their intellectual property rights. The Brabham family did not approve of this entry bid, and moved to block it. I’m not sure if they were successful or not, but it ultimately proved to be moot, since the entry was not accepted to the grid and was not placed on the reserve list.

    • GeeMac (@geemac) said on 2nd January 2013, 12:04

      Interesting story. From the tone of David Brabham’s quote in that article it seems like the family are being very careful about who they let try bring the name back into F1, which is obviously a good thing in the wake of the often tedious Lotus vs Lotus debacle.

      • Bullfrog (@bullfrog) said on 2nd January 2013, 22:32

        Easily (and probably best) forgotten that David also drove for Brabham in F1, but that wasn’t the team’s finest hour, so it’s not surprising if he wants any comeback done properly.

        Wonder if Matthew could make the unique achievement of three generations of Brabhams driving Brabhams? Good to hear about him signing up with Andretti Autosport recently.

  7. Ean (@ean) said on 2nd January 2013, 6:00

    I noticed that King Fisher Airlines (sponsor of the team) is in financial difficulties and has lost their license. Vijay Mallya the owner of Force India is also owner of airline . Will this have an impact on the team ? I think so.

  8. Dev (@dev) said on 2nd January 2013, 8:16

    P. di Resta scored 44 points in first 14 races and in the last 6 races got 2 points totaling 44.
    and N Hulk scored 31 points in first 14 races and in the last 6 races got 32 points totaling 63.
    This is di Resta’s second season and he has done well in the initial period of the season and his performance dives down the later. He needs to get his act together and make a big impression in 2013 if he wants to move to a bigger team, if he does not have a good season in 2013 then it’s likely that Force India too may consider dropping him for 2014. I think Hulk made a wrong move to Saubers, VJM05 was pretty consistent and was a step forward & i have a feeling that they will be faster than Saubers next year.

  9. dragoll (@dragoll) said on 2nd January 2013, 8:26

    Its interesting to hear Ross Brawns reflections on the year, and it seems to tie in perfectly with their form slump. The question I have though is, did they know Schumi was moving on or not before making that decision. Its starting to smell like they sacrificed the 2012 season in search of jumping the squabbling top 3 teams in 2013, as well as leading with a new lead driver.

    Merc might actually surprise us all this year, looking forward to the opening round already :)

  10. Girts (@girts) said on 2nd January 2013, 8:45

    Out of these two, I’d take Sutil. I believe that he is a very decent driver, who deserves to be in F1 on merit. Jules Bianchi would be a rookie, who probably hasn’t impressed as much as people expected him to a few years ago. According to JA, he hasn’t been as impressive as Hulkenberg in the free practice sessions, too. I’m usually happy to see new drivers in F1 but I’m not sure if Bianchi deserves to make debut in F1 more than Sutil deserves to return or than Kovalainen deserves to stay.

    Anyway, if Bianchi is going to become a F1 race driver, then I hope that Robin Frijns will join him on the grid soon…

  11. AndrewT (@andrewt) said on 2nd January 2013, 9:47

    Bianchi would be a rational choise, as mentioned above, if Force India would like to continue with Ferrari engines in the turbo era. Besides, it’s a tendency, that reserve drivers at this team will earn a race-contract (Liuzzi, di Resta, Hülkenberg).
    Sutil proved himself as a safe pair of hands (from 2010 at least), and he had to leave at a high, he had a fantastic second half of 2011. Logically they would have continued the relationship if that particular lawsuit had not been in progress, that could have take the German out of F1 action any time.

    If the teams shortlist has really been narrowed down to these two drivers, than it will be a very hard decision.
    If it’s a political decision, then Bianchi will earn the seat, but it tells a lot about the uncertainity that he has not been confirmed yet, in the previous seasons the team announced their lineup much earlier.
    If it’s a financial decision, Sutil must be the choice, as he will bring the Medion sponsorship money, plus experience, plus he knows the environment. If it’s a financial decision for a longer term, cheaper Ferrari engines, maybe further technological support, and the fact that they don’t have to pay for a “loaned” driver could however also mean that Bianchi would be chosen.

    But, with Jaime Alguersuari with all his Pirelli testing experience and a strong 2011 second half performance, Heikki Kovalainen and Kamui Kobayashi still looking for a seat, I’m not sure I would be happy to chose from those 2 above…

    • Funkyf1 (@funkyf1) said on 3rd January 2013, 6:26

      Totally agree with you @andrewt. Heikki, Kamui or even Senna would be better in those seats. I think the focus of FI should be on this coming season’s results and not 2014. As much as Bianchi might surprise a few people and find some form, the future of the team itself is not secure.

    • Enigma (@enigma) said on 3rd January 2013, 6:34

      If it’s a political decision, then Bianchi will earn the seat, but it tells a lot about the uncertainity that he has not been confirmed yet, in the previous seasons the team announced their lineup much earlier.

      @andrewt Not really – perhaps last year, but Di Resta’s debut was only confirmed on January 26th of that year.

  12. JamieFranklinF1 (@jamiefranklinf1) said on 2nd January 2013, 10:20

    Force India have a tough choice to make. Sutil is probably the safer choice, given that he is a known quantity, but being safe isn’t always the best option. Perhaps Bianchi would be the better choice, but they don’t necessarily know that yet, and it would beg the question as to why they would give him practice session drives, if he wasn’t going to make an appearance in a race seat sooner or later.

    But as others have eluded to, maybe there are other drivers on the grid that may be able to do a better job, with the added bonus that they wouldn’t be race rusty. Kovaleinen and Kobayashi come to mind.

    There are a number of options at their disposal, not forgetting Alguersuari either.

  13. Force Maikel (@force-maikel) said on 2nd January 2013, 10:44

    I’m not too happy about either of them so for me Force India is becoming very unattractive and as far as I am aware di Resta is yet to be confirmed by the team so his seat is in no way safe. That’s why the title of this article confused me. They should have definitely chosen Alguersuari over these two.

  14. ME4ME (@me4me) said on 2nd January 2013, 10:49

    I’d go for Sutil. Bianchi hasn’t impressed me at all, and Sutil seems like a more solid points scorer. He did very well in my oppinion in 2011, and beat PdR fair and squar.

  15. Fernando Cruz said on 2nd January 2013, 11:45

    I’m sure Senna would match Di Resta if he could get the Force India drive for 2013! Di Resta was better than Hulkenberg in the first half of the season but was clearly behind his team mate in the second half even in race pace, while Senna was level with Maldonado in race pace almost all year. Di Resta was in his second year of racing with his team to Hulkenberg’s first, while Senna was in his first to Maldonado’s second. Furthermore Di Resta had more track time, he didn’t lose 15 FP1. So Senna has a lot of room to improve, as even in 2012 he was not given equal conditions to his team mate. Senna would be even better than Sutil, as he raced this year and Sutil was out. Another thing that would help Senna to improve would be 2013 tyres, which will have a larger performance window, suiting more his driving style. So he would qualify much better in 2013, recovering the qualifying form that he showed with Lotus in 2011. As he is already very good and consistent in races, that would make him a really good asset to Force India, capable to win races if he has a good car. He would be at least as good as Paul Di Resta.

    However, I reckon there is a degree of uncertainty, as even the driver or his fans can’t be absolutely 100% sure he will be fast enough and will completely recover his qualifying form. But surely he would do better than Bianchi, now the favourite for the drive. Also drivers like Kobayashi, Kovalainen (or even Alguersuari or Buemi, despite spending a year out) could do better than Bianchi or even better than Sutil, so that says a lot about how things are done in F1.

    • JamieFranklinF1 (@jamiefranklinf1) said on 2nd January 2013, 12:08

      I had forgotten about Senna. I actually think he’d be a better choice than either Sutil or Bianchi. Without losing his practice sessions all year, he could prove to be a good team mate to Hulkenberg, though it would be his make or break year if that were to happen. I guess it all depends on whether Force India want to give a chance to a new, young driver (Though Bianchi isn’t really that young), perhaps an unknown quantity that might prove to be an excellent decision, or just go with another solid, but average driver.

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