16/12/2011

Force India 2012 driver announcement!

After a long, long wait we finally got confirmation today that Paul Di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg will be Force India's main drivers in 2012.

Nico Hulkenberg has been promoted from his reserve driver role, replacing Adrian Sutil.

Here is what Force India's managing director, Vijay Mallya, had to say:

"I am delighted to present our line-up for the 2012 season. In Paul and Nico we have two extremely talented drivers with tremendous potential. I think Paul caught the eye of everybody in the pit lane during his rookie season. His speed, maturity and race craft confirmed that we were right to believe in him and we look forward to working with him again next year. As for Nico, we identified him as a rising star at the end of 2010 and chose to evaluate him during the course of this season. Despite having only limited time in the car, he convinced us that he deserved a race seat for 2012. Our new line-up means we say ‘goodbye’ to Adrian Sutil, who has been with the team since we entered the sport. He has been an integral part of our success over the past four seasons and we wish him well for the future.
"

Paul Di Resta said the following:

"I’m really looking forward to my second season of Formula One and continuing to grow and develop with Sahara Force India. I’ve said all along that I love being part of this team; they are ambitious, hungry for success and we work well together. I’m really excited about 2012 and there is a real sense of belief that we can continue to push the top teams and take another step forward. I’d also like to thank the team for all their hard work this year and for all the support they’ve given me. I’ll take some time out over the next few weeks to recharge my batteries and hopefully come back even stronger in 2012."


The promoted Nico Hulkenberg said this:

"I’m obviously delighted to be staying with Sahara Force India and to be given the chance to race next year. It wasn’t easy to watch from the side lines this season, but I did my best to help the team and show what I was capable of. I’m extremely motivated for 2012 and would like to thank everyone for believing in me and giving me this chance. I’m keen to get down to work over the winter to develop our new car and help the team build on this year’s achievements. The first test in Jerez can’t come soon enough."

Personally if i had to make the decision i would have stuck with Adrian and Paul, however what must be remembered is that the team have more data than us and can make a more informed decision on the matter; therefore i trust the teams decision.

Interestingly no announcement was made on the the reserve driver role. As we understand it there are lots of drivers in contention for that position:

Main contenders
  • Jules Bianchi (French, 22yo) - Jules has been strongly linked to the reserve driver role. He is on the Ferrari young driver programme and was the teams test and reserve driver in 2011, a move to Force India would most likely be for Ferrari to see how the youngster performs during Friday practice sessions. In 2011 Jules also finished 3rd in the GP2 main series and 2nd in the GP2 Asia series.
  • Max Chilton (British, 20yo) - Max did a straight line aero test for the team early in 2011 and clearly the team liked him as he got called back to do the 2011 young driver test in Abu Dhabi.
Outside contenders
  • Antonio Felix da Costa (Portuguese, 20yo) - Took part in the 2010 young driver test for Force India and was over a second faster than Paul Di Resta (although fuel may have played some part in that). In 2011 Antonio finished 13th in the GP3 series.
  • Johnny Cecotto Jr (Venezuelan, 22yo) - Took part in the 2011 young driver test with Max Chilton. Other than that experience he had a disappointing 2011 season; 24th in GP2 Main series and 15th in GP2 Asia series scoring 0pts in both championships.
  • Karun Chandhok (Indian, 27yo) - We all know who Karun is! He was Lotus reserve driver in 2011 and was expected to get a drive there in 2012 but with Kovalainen and Trulli confirmed at that team Karun needs to look elsewhere. With Sahara now backing Force India they may well request an Indian reserve driver and this could pave the way for Karun in 2012.
  • Yelmer Buurman (Dutch, 24yo) - Took part in the 2010 young driver test with Antonio Felix da Costa in 2010. In 2011 he finished 4th in Superleague Formula. He also did two races in the GT1 World championship - he won both of them!
Other contenders
  • Adrian Sutil (German, 28yo) - Needs no introduction really. Should the talented German driver not find a drive elsewhere on the grid the team may offer him the reserve driver role, whether he wants to take it or not is a different story. Adrian will initially look at other teams and his best bet seems to be the spare seat at Williams; but he will face competition for that seat from Barrichello, Petrov and Senna. The other seat that is free is the one at HRT which is expected to be taken by Alguersuari. Just like Giancarlo Fisichella and Vitantonio Liuzzi we wish Adrian the best of luck in the future, he's been a wonderful asset to the team and we won't forget his contributions! =)
  • Rubens Barrichello (Brazilian, 39yo) - Hasn't really been linked to the team by anyone however should he not find a drive elsewhere i think he may get a call from Force India. The experience he brings would surely help the team in terms of in-season car development so he could be a good asset.

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