The Force India decision
24th October 2012, 22:57 at 10:57 pm #132277
With Sauber set to partner Nico Hülkenberg with Esteban Gutiérrez, the German’s Force India seat is up for grabs and a queue of eager Formula 1 drivers are desperate to remain or return to the sport. Team owner Vijay Mallya’s economic empire is crumbling, hinting at an uncertain future for the team. But with the potential to score points, many F1 drivers are lining up to survive- but who will be the best fit for Force India? And who would you pick?
1. Jules Bianchi. The Frenchman combined a successful season of Formula Renault 3.5 with eight Friday sessions for Force India. He’s definitely quick and has some experience from testing Ferrari and Force India cars, which is crucial considering the lack of testing opportunities for rookies. It’s also worth noting that Bianchi’s personal sponsor, Brazilian car parts company Aethra, is now a noticeable sponsor for Sahara Force India.
2. Adrian Sutil. The ex-Force India ace relinquished his seat to countryman Nico Hülkenberg following the scandalous fracas with Eric Lux in a Shanghai nightclub. But with Hülkenberg out, the experienced Sutil could find himself back in the cockpit of a Force India. Despite missing a year of action, Sutil still caries hefty sponsorship from Medion and Capri-Sun.
3. Sebastien Buemi. The Red Bull reserve was hoping for a Sauber seat, but he is no longer in the running. Buemi, like Sutil, has also skipped out on 2012, but has kept busy with endurance racing. With Antonio Felix da Costa, Carlos Sainz Jr., and Daniil Kvyat rising through the ranks, Buemi’s Red Bull job could be at stake. However, his consistency and speed could hand him a Force India contract.
4. Luiz Razia. Like Bianchi, Razia finished runner-up in a premier feeder series and has plenty of F1 testing experience. Throughout his career, Razia’s tested a Virgin, Caterham (née Lotus), Force India, and will soon test the STR7. The Bahian has also amassed sponsorship, which could make him an attractive option for Force India.
5. Charles Pic. Rumours had pointed the Frenchman in the direction of Caterham, but he is still on the market. With Max Chilton tipped to take his spot alongside Glock, Pic is searching for a seat. With his large amount of cash (from the family business) and status as the best rookie to challenge Glock, Pic could fit in at Force India.
6. Kamui Kobayashi. The Sauber refugee carries no money, but has reached the podium.
7. Bruno Senna. On the other hand, Bruno Senna does carry substantial sponsorship.
8. Giedo van der Garde. The Dutchman’s McGregor backing has kept him on the market for a couple of years now, but an average GP2 record may prevent teams from signing him.25th October 2012, 2:08 at 2:08 am #213741
I’d also add Alguersuari. He claims to have a seat for next year, and he’s been linked to FI. He recently started following them on twitter, and he apparently doesn’t follow any other team.25th October 2012, 6:17 at 6:17 am #213742
And there is still every chance they’d keep di Resta.
If I were Vijay Mallya or Bob Fearnley (who’s very active role with the team now), here’s how I’d split it:
1. Sutil or di Resta? Both have experience with the team and have scored solid points in previous years. I’m leaning towards di Resta (because he has more recent experience), but Sutil did beat di Resta the year they were together, so I could still be swayed that way too.
2. Bianchi, Kobayashi, or Alguersuari? All 3 are promising youngsters that should show strong form. As much as I like Kamui, I think his lack of sponsorship and overall patchy form will make him a less likely pick. Based on that, it’s a matter of what I’d prefer: youth (Bianchi) or experience (Alguersuari). I’m going with Bianchi – just. His sponsorship package doesn’t harm his chances here too.
So it’s di Resta-Bianchi for me, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sutil or Alguersuari in the team too.25th October 2012, 23:52 at 11:52 pm #213743
How could I forget Alguersuari? He has valuable experience with the Pirelli tires and is still very young, making him a possible long-term prospect. IPIC-Aabar took a liking to him, which fueled Alguersuari-to-Mercedes (as their reserve) rumours earlier in the year. If he still has his Mercedes connections via IPIC-Aabar then he will surely be a top candidate for the Force India drive.
Oh, and for clarification, I created this topic with the assumption that di Resta is set to remain with the team in 2013.26th October 2012, 2:16 at 2:16 am #213744
@journeyer, I don’t think you could describe the choice between Bianchi and Alguersuari as one between youth and experience, given that Jaime is almost 8 months younger :-)26th October 2012, 6:29 at 6:29 am #213745
if van der garde/razia can make it to the list, why not someone like Calado? The star of GP2 2012 IMO26th October 2012, 7:08 at 7:08 am #213746
Thats because Calado doesn’t exactly have links to the team, and doesn’t have enough sponsorship to stay in GP2 as it is.
I’m thinking it will probably end up being Di Rest and Alguersuari, but I can definitely see Sutil and Di Resta working, he did beat the brit last time they were teammates26th October 2012, 8:41 at 8:41 am #213747
Force India is unique among the teams in the way it is structured financially; most of their money seems to come from Vijay Mallya’s liquor empire (which is much more stable than his airliners). They don’t rely on pay drivers, which is very unusual for a privateer team. If any team can take a non-paying driver, it’s Force India.26th October 2012, 10:12 at 10:12 am #213748
It’s true Force India have quite the number of options on the table for that second seat but I think a realistic shortlist would consist of Alguersuari, Sutil and Bianchi, in this order.
I see no point in bringing Razia or Van Der Garde into that racing seat while Bianchi is still on the sidelines. Plus, Van Der Garde’s future looks set with Caterham imo as he might be their best option for replacing Petrov. And I doubt Koba, Senna and Pic’s careers will go anywhere further if they get dropped by their current teams.26th October 2012, 10:19 at 10:19 am #213749
@Bosley aha. Thanks. I didn’t realize any of those other drivers had links with FIndia (I don’t follow junior formulae)
I wonder though. Di Resta would be entering his third year. What would happen if he gets absolutely thrashed, by someone like a Sutil or Alguersuari? (as a pure what-if)26th October 2012, 10:31 at 10:31 am #213750
@raymondu999 – Di Resta looks overdue for a promotion to a big team, but no openings so far. Maybe he’ll have better luck when Massa’s contract extension runs out, but I do suppose that a thrashing by his teammate might hurt his case to a certain degree.
Back on topic, if Force India have no financial restrictions on who they can choose, they’d go for a driver who has experience and pace. Alguersuari and Sutil fit the bill perfectly. However, Alguersuari has been testing tyres for Pirelli, and so should be quite familiar with them, while Sutil hasn’t been in a car for quite some time. Add to that the “sign” of him having Force India as the only team he follows on Twitter, then I’d say the case for Alguersuari is strong.26th October 2012, 10:39 at 10:39 am #213751
If he really was “long overdue for a promotion”, don’t you think he would have one by now?26th October 2012, 11:00 at 11:00 am #213752
@prisoner-monkeys I don’t to be honest. I feel Kimi is long overdue a comeback win, and I feel Alonso is long overdue a 3rd title. Doesn’t change reality really.
But IMO it’s more a reflection of today’s talent pool that someone like Paul is deemed not as good as those currently with top drives (otherwise if he was deemed as good or better he’d have been take I guess)26th October 2012, 11:20 at 11:20 am #213753
@prisoner-monkeys – I think it’s more to do with the fact that there are almost no opportunities for drivers to move upward from the midfield in the first place. The only driver who’s managed that recently is Perez. Otherwise, the top teams have had static driver line-ups for the past 3 years, and it doesn’t look to be changing anytime soon.26th October 2012, 17:03 at 5:03 pm #213754
Di Resta is super consistent and is doing a good job this season.
Sutil made more points in 2011 but Di Resta was in his rookie year and Sutil was at home.In quali they were equals.
I would choose Jules Bianchi as second driver.
The best timo glock rookie team mate was D’Ambrosio (spin in the pitlane apart).Glock beated him easily in quali (also in gp2 JDA was not a fantastic qualifier) but in races head to head he won 9 to 7 and drove strong races in Spa,Montreal and Suzuka.But he doesn’t have a good press and loads of cash like Pic.
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