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Force India: possible candidates for the 2013-14 seats

TOP CONTRIBUTOR
Top 5 / Top 10 20 Dec 2012, 15:53 IST
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The Sahara Force India team is the only team yet to announce both its drivers for the 2013-14 F1 season. With the first race at Albert Park, Australia, less than three months away, here are the possible candidates who could drive for the Indian based team next year:

1) Paul di Resta

NOIDA, INDIA – OCTOBER 26: Paul di Resta of Great Britain and Force India prepares to drive during practice for the Indian Formula One Grand Prix at Buddh International Circuit on October 26, 2012 in Noida, India.

The Scotsman has been with the team since 2010 and was the team’s driver for the 2011 and 12 season. Di Resta is considered a talented driver who has matured with experience and Force India might want to hold on to him. Widespread rumors do suggest that he is expected to retain his seat for the upcoming season.

Di Resta had a good start to the 2012 season but ended on a bad note having been overtaken by fellow team-mate Nico Hulkenberg and only managing a meagre two points from the last six races. The highlight of his season was a fourth place finish at the Singapore GP. He finished fourteenth in the overall driver’s standings.

2) Adrian Sutil

YEONGAM-GUN, SOUTH KOREA – OCTOBER 16: Adrian Sutil of Germany and Force India attends the drivers parade before the Korean Formula One Grand Prix at the Korea International Circuit on October 16, 2011 in Yeongam-gun, South Korea.

The German had been a permanent driver for the team since its inception in 2008 up until the 2011-12 season. He had many memorable results during his four years with Force India including two fifth place finishes in the 2010 Malaysian and Belgian Grand Prix. He also finished ninth in the inaugural Indian GP and gained two points. Sutil was instrumental in Force India finishing a strong sixth in the constructors in 2010 only four points shy of Renault’s fifth place finish.

He also finished ninth overall in the 2011 championship after consistent performances throughout the season. He was not given a seat for the 2012 season after being convicted in a night-club brawl with the CEO of Genii capital and was given a suspended prison sentence for his actions for which he apologized. He has now been cleared to race again and looks the most likely to be back at Force India.

In a recent interview the German stated that, “In five years I was in this team, they know how good I am and they know my qualities. I am not the one going to this team saying, ‘please, please give me the drive’. They should come to me and say, ‘we want you.’ I want to drive for this team but they should also want me as a driver. I am quite relaxed.”

3) Giancarlo Fisichella

SUZUKA, JAPAN – OCTOBER 02: Giancarlo Fisichella of Italy and Ferrari prepares to drive during practice for the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix at Suzuka Circuit on October 2, 2009 in Suzuka, Japan.

The Italian is an experienced campaigner on the circuit and has been racing since 1996 and has had stints with Minardi, Jordan, Benetton and even Renault where he was a part of the team that won the constructors championship in 2005 and ’06. Fisichella has been termed by various pundits as one of the smoothest drivers in modern day Formula one. Fisichella was a part of the Force India team when it started its journey in 2008 and to date is the only driver to have achieved a podium finish for the Indian team during the 2009 Belgian GP after making effective use of some new upgrades, which had been provided to the car before the race.

He however, left the team to join Ferrari as a test driver and drove for them for the remainder of the season as Massa was out injured. Fisichella’s experience could be vital for the team and he has stated time and again that he is not happy being a test driver and did not race a single race in the recently concluded season. At 39, the team might be reluctant to offer him a long-term deal.

4) Nick Heidfeld

NURBURG, GERMANY – JULY 21: Nick Heidfeld of Germany and Renault attends the drivers press conference during previews to the German Formula One Grand Prix at the Nurburgring on July 21, 2011 in Nurburg, Germany.

The German is by far one of the most talented drivers to have raced in Formula 1 and not have won a single race.  Heidfeld currently holds three other records; he is the driver who has scored the highest number of world championship points without a Grand Prix win. He also holds the record for the most podium finishes without a Grand Prix win and has the most second place finishes without a win, with 8. He also holds the record for the most consecutive race classifications with a tally of 41.

I was personally shocked to find out that he could not guarantee himself a seat for the 2012 season whereby Lotus chose Grosjean ahead of him and Senna was able to confirm a seat with Williams. Heidfeld had a very successful and fruitful stint with BMW before the team decide to go out of the sport. He has been participating in endurance races and events of late and seems to have fallen of the radar of most F1 teams. Though unlikely, but if chosen he can really propel Force India to better finishes and more podiums.

5) Heikki Kovalainen

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY – JULY 26: Heikki Kovalainen of Finland and Caterham attends the drivers press conference during previews to the Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix at the Hungaroring on July 26, 2012 in Budapest, Hungary.

The Finn has been around the circuit for a few years and has had stints with big teams including Mclaren and Renault, both of where he replaced Fernando Alonso. Kovaleinen drove for Caterham last season and could not help them get any points, he was widely expected to be retained by Caterham but no confirmations have been made so far. Force India could move in for him if they want.

Although he has produced respectable results with Caterham and Lotus, his stints with the big teams have not been successful especially his second season with Mclaren in 2009. A lot of pundits feel he has not lived up to his potential in Formula One. 

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