Force India – FINALLY
Ask the ‘Children of Israel’ who followed Moses what it’s like to miss the boat. 40 years of wandering in the wilderness allegedly – one of the official ‘longest waits’ in history. Well I feel as though I’ve aged 40 yeaqrs whilst writing and speculating about what the hell is going on at Force India – and I think there’s more to come yet.
So finally, Force India formally confirm what a number of us knew yesterday morning. A statement published on their website says,
“Sahara Force India is pleased to announce that Adrian Sutil will complete its driver line-up for the 2013 season. The 2013 campaign will be Adrian’s fifth racing season in the colours of Sahara Force India and his sixth year of Formula One competition. Adrian will test for the team this week in Barcelona, driving on Friday and Saturday. Paul Di Resta will be back in the car on Sunday.”
Even the press briefing sheet handed out in Barcelona this morning did not have this information. I think Force India could do with the services of ‘the horse whisperer’ in a big way. He could become ‘the elephant trumpeter’ I guess.
The Sahara Force India release continues with the venerable “Dr Vijay Mallya, Team Principal and Managing Director:” – you can imagine him drawing himself up to his full height whilst penning his title and multiple roles, just in case we all don’t know.
Just before we lean forward to hear Vijay speak, remember that tens of millions of bits of data are transmitted from the car each lap to the pits and analysed in an instant. However, the reason for the quite remarkable delay Vijay explains as follows.
“The decision over our driver line-up has not been an easy one and we have given it great consideration over the last few months. It was a close call, but ultimately we felt that Adrian’s experience and historic links to the team gave him the edge, and will provide us with the best possible chance of realising our ambitions for the coming season. If he can rediscover the exceptional form he showed in the second half of 2011, I’m confident that we can pick up where we left off at the end of 2012. As for Jules Bianchi, he has impressed us enormously with his speed and work ethic, and I’m hopeful we can continue working with him this year to help him develop into a future Grand Prix driver.”
Frank Lee Morris sorry, Adrian Sutil is clearly exuberant about his ‘second’ or ‘third’ coming… “I’m delighted to be back in Formula One, especially with a team I know so well. I’m very happy and I want to thank Sahara Force India for giving me a second chance. Having been away from the sport, I’m even more determined to achieve my goals in Formula One. Things went really well at the Barcelona test last week and it almost feels as though I’ve never been away. Driving the car felt so natural and I was able to get back in the groove quickly and find the limit. Now my focus is on making the most of the final test session this week, working with the team in the simulator and getting myself in the best possible shape for Melbourne.”
Bianchi’s manager Nicolas Todt told Reuters yesterday: “It’s a big disappointment. I am a very realistic person but I was very hopeful he would get this drive.”
Ecclestone’s Indian connections
TJ13 has probably covered the Force India story more than anyone in the closed season. For some time we had no announcement of Paul getting a second year and Formula1.com (owned by FOM/BE) for weeks refused to display either Force India drivers with their names and pictures as confirmed.
There were rumours around the Autosport event in January that Mr. E was interested in Force India. He apparently attempted to buy Brawn GP but Daimler-Benz pipped him to the post. We also have heard more than once or twice the Bernie is most keen on having an Indian driver on the grid. He made comments to this effect during the weekend of the Indian GP – on several occasions – it was almost a polemic.
It is interesting that Luiz Razia is again absent from the Marussia team today. It may be his sponsors have not indicated any good faith payment to the team and John and Graeme are not playing ball till they see some green backs. The provisional team driver schedule sheet I saw last night had Razia listed as driving today. Mmm.
Some are speculating should Razia’s Brazlilian backers fail to find their hidden stash, this could open the way for a return for Senna to Marussia or indeed Petrov ahead of the inaugural GP in Sochi 2014. However, my money would be on Narain if Bernie’s got his fingers in any pies at present.
Karthikeyan’s appearance at last year’s Indian GP in a back marker team didn’t fill the stands, so you have you ask why appearing this year in another back marker team would. Senna’s run using his uncles name has probably come to an end and bringing in Petrov just to have a Russian driver for one race next year doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense. Then there’s Bianchi. If Grahame Chilton is in fact in the process of buying Marussia, a tie up with Ferrari might be an ideal, and putting Bianchi in the seat would seal that relationship.
The only thing wrong with the bianchi scenario is marussia’s (increasing) technical partnership with mclaren. I see mclaren if-naying that deal.
Petrov makes sense to me – reasonable driver, some money, possible bigger future team earnings vis-a-vis Sochi 2014.
While Marussia do have a technical partnership with McLaren, wind tunnel and simulator, they also have a technical partnership with Williams, KERS and other electronic development. Marussia don’t use any McLaren developed parts in their car. If Petrov makes sense as a Russian driver with a Russian team why isn’t he their already?
Please not Karthikeyan – I am not a mean person but Karthikean does not deserve his umpteenth chance at showing us that is is not a good F1 driver. Please go away. If it has to be an Indian driver, I’d rather it be Chandhok.
Must admit, I feel a bit for Razia. While not a top rank driver, the chap can race and would most likely fair better than Chilton over a season.
Irrespective of what people think of them, Razia and Bianchi are being treated shabbily in a very public way. Shame.
Time to enforce driver registration deadlines methinks. Penalties for failing to do so, and further penalties for changing them after the closing deadline.
After watching the Sky Sports coverage, they mentioned that Kovalainen was the favourite for Marussia (can’t remember what moment it was but here is the link anyway http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=JbihyN8U2JI). Once again I suspect Bianchi would be the most suitable candidate, but I hope Razia stays in the drive.
Hi Alistair – good to hear from you.
I just did a new post, and I’m afraid it looks as though Razia is out.
I’ve just read it… Admittedly, I didn’t hope that Razia would stay because I liked him, but because if he was suddenly dropped it would be an acknowledgement of how bitter and impersonal the business of the sport is. Basically, it is easy to say that it is all about money, but I had hoped that it would still be possible to turn round and say – like in the example of Maldonado – that yes, they have cash, but they have talent, and they do still deserve their place in Formula One, and any arguments about it would not be able to be backed up by fact because any ‘better’ drivers would not be at the same team in comparison, so it would be impossible to state outright that another choice is better. If this goes ahead, then it is a fact that Marussia actively sought a driver with the largest amount of money, and when the not all of the money had come through they didn’t think that it would be possible to honour the agreement anyway, and then thought it would be a better option to go for a driver with talent over a driver who is suddenly worth the same amount.
Basically the two reasons I don’t like this are that it goes against my British sense of fair play, and that it can be seen as confirmation of their pursuit of drivers with more money over drivers with more talent. I know that the last point has been evident for some time, but it provides irrefutable evidence of it, in comparison to it being something we all suspected but something we could argue against.
PS. It is nice to see Heikki back if this is indeed true.
But don’t blame the teams – blame the vast inequality of the distribution of funds by Bernie.
Before the ‘new deal’ in the Premier league the bottom surviving club got £40m for finishing last of the survivors – the second placed team got £14m more.
Marussia will be lucky to get $10m – Ferrari got $105m for finishing 2nd – $15m more than RB for winning???
Well, yes. The system is quite unfair, and if you had to look at it you would have to conclude that it would never be fair under these circumstances. If all the teams got the same amount or a similar amount of money, then I suspect either we would be seeing a very different picture regarding driver selection (and, come to think of it, the ability of the three ‘new’ teams to survive and the ability of the two surviving new teams to score a point/points).
Also, if you use your Premier League example, the common statistic is that the television revenue generated by the Turkish Premier League is around the same as the one with Formula One, so should the new plans by the sixth most valuable footballing economy in the world (ref: http://www.turkish-football.com/news_read.php?id=3980; don’t think I’ve ever heard that mentioned by the same F1 critics, but anyway) to follow the English Premier League’s system be a sign that Formula One needs to change?
“…it can be seen as confirmation of their pursuit of drivers with more money over drivers with more talent.”
That and they’re broke.
Probably true, and while I accept that the jobs of all the members of the team are important, if can employ someone who brings as little money to the team as Kovalainen, then why didn’t they do it in the first place, rather than seeking as much money as they could from Razia? Anyway, yeah, I agree with you on that, I hope they don’t become the same as HRT.