Force India seem to be in a pickle. Do they plump for the inexperienced yet commercially attractive Jules Bianchi or go back to the tried and tested Adrian Sutil for their second seat?
The team’s financial situation has been the matter of speculation for a quite a long time with Vijay Mallya’s Kingfisher Airlines in utter turmoil. Whilst there have been repeated assurances that the F1 team in wholly separate they are a team with few sponsors, used to promote Mallya’s brands so the jury’s out as to whether Mallya’s cashflow difficulties will spill over to the team.
If the team is suffering from financial difficulties (and lets face it, who aren’t?) then it’s hard to look past Bianchi for the drive. From what I understand he not only brings sponsors but due to his connections at Ferrari may also get them a discount should they choose to switch from Mercedes power in 2014. Whilst this is only a rumour at the minute, it seems likely that Ferrari will look for a customer replacement since Toro Rosso announced they would be making moving to Renault power next year in order to use the Red Bull gearbox/powertrain.
Sutil will have the car for the third day of testing before handing over to Bianchi and it is not inconceivable that Force India give him the drive. He is very familiar with the team, driving for them from the Midland days right up until 2011. In his last two seasons at the squad he was a consistent performer, regularly scoring points and this could weigh heavily in his favour compared to the relatively inexperienced Bianchi. However Sutil was convicted of assault occasioning grievous bodily harm on Genii Capital CEO Eric Lux and it remains to be seen how this would affect his F1 prospects.
The team need to make up their minds as having no named second driver named by the second test is rather unusual and will not make the team attractive to prospective commercial partners.