Adrian Sutil has said he is on the verge of a deal to stay at Force India for the 2011 season.
The highly rated German driver had been linked with a variety of seats away from the independent Silverstone based team, to partner Robert Kubica at Renault or even possibly to join the Mercedes Benz team.
However Sutil, who has raced with Force India since they joined the sport in 2008, says he will be happy to stay with Vijay Mallya’s team for next season.
“I am close to Force India and although there is nothing signed yet, the direction is towards Force India at the moment,” Sutil told Autosport ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix.
“It looks good at the moment. I said already many times that I am happy to stay here another year, and I cannot say more at the moment. There is nothing signed at the moment but the direction is Force India.”
“I feel good here. I was born here, let’s say. It’s my first team and I still feel good in this one.
“For sure there is a certain time where you think you may need another challenge or to change teams, but I still feel good here and I still feel we can improve our performance. We can do better next year and thinking about that I have to continue another relationship and another partnership.”
As the Formula One “silly” season comes around again, and drivers are beginning to sign on the dotted line to new contracts one of the more overlooked rumours this weekend in Japan has been the possibility that Felipe Massa could be ready to leave Ferrari in search of being an out and out first driver.
The Brazilian was drafted into Ferrari and raced as Michael Schumacher’s understudy in 2006. In 2007, he was overshadowed by Kimi Raikkonen who went on to win the title. In 2008, he missed out on the championship by just a single point and 2009 was the infamous year where he was nearly killed. 2010 has been a difficult year for Massa. he had to move aside in Germany, so that Fernando Alonso could win the race in order to help his world championship challenge. It smelt like Schumacher/Barrichello from years before.
At the time Massa accepted the decision, but has become increasingly unhappy both on and off the track. His performances have slid, and he doesn’t look happy in the garage. On Thursday ahead of the Grand Prix, Massa told reporters that he “Didn’t want to be a 2nd driver, only the first driver. I don’t want to be another Rubens Barrichello”. Hastily, the boss of Ferrari Luca di Montezemolo said that he was still a number 1. But how can a team have two number ones? Especially when the other driver is Fernando Alonso. Lets not forget 2007, when Alonso was challenged at McLaren and he didn’t accept it.
Italian Press and the Suzuka paddock have been awash with rumour that he was ready to leave the team. The main teams he is being linked with are Renault, and believe it or not – Force India. The latter statement shows just how far the little team based in Silverstone has come, to attract a driver like Felipe. Word in the paddock is that now Raikkonen has declined Renault, Adrian Sutil will leave Force India and head across to Enstone to partner Robert Kubica. This leaves the Force India door wide open for Scotsman Paul di Resta to take over from Tonio Liuzzi, and Felipe Massa could slot in as the number 1 driver within the team.
So it looks like Felipe may hold the key to the driver market this season. If he leaves, it leaves a completely empty race seat with Ferrari – who could potentially be the drivers championship winning team. Both drivers at Red Bull and McLaren are secure for 2011, so it would be likely to be an outsider driver coming in to the team. They have a range of options. They could select a youngster, one of their young driver programme drivers, but this is highly risky for the team and they would have to be confident that the driver could perform at the highest level straight from the off.
Their other option is to bring in someone experienced. Kimi Raikkonen rejected Renault for the team, as opposed to rejecting the prospect of Formula One. Could he make a sensational come back to F1 with Ferrari? Another possibility could be Michael Schumacher, the tainted son of the Italian team, has allegedly been offered an ultimatum by his Mercedes Benz bosses – perform or face the sack. Returning to Ferrari would guarantee him continued legend status, and almost certainly a competitive car. If Schumacher did leave Mercedes, then Nico Hulkenberg could go across to the all German team – his race seat at Williams is rumoured to be being offered to Pastor Maldonado, the GP2 World Champion.
It could make for an exciting winter season after all!
A UK court of appeal have today reversed a previous decision made by another British court regarding the Force India sponsorship debate, which started back in 2008. The court had previously judged that Etihad Airlines, and Aldar two prominent Abu Dhabi based businesses had breached contracts with the Force India team and were forced to pay them $4.7million in damages.
However, under appeal the decision appears to have been reversed.
Etihad and Aldar began sponsoring the Spyker F1 Team in 2007, however when Vijay Mallya bought the team at the end of the season and renamed it Force India the two companies left one year into their three year deal.
The new appeal have said that Etihad and Aldar had every right to leave the deal, as the team had changed hands and also because of rival sponsors being brought onboard. The judge ruled that Mallya’s own airline, Kingfisher, being a title sponsor alongside Etihad would not have worked out for the Abu Dhabi based airline and therefore they had every right to leave.
Force India have been told to pay costs and may yet be forced to pay damages.
Adrian Sutil, the talented Force India driver has told GrandPrix.com that he is keeping his options open with regard any future race seats.
The German driver, who has begun to start scoring consistent points finishes with Force India had until recently spent majority of his F1 career at the back of the grid. However with a rejuvinated Force India team results had been going his way, and he currently lies 10th in the championship ahead of the likes of Rubens Barrichello.
Things have not been quite so rosy for him in the last two races though. At his home event at Hockenheim, a pitlane error caused him to finish the race at the back and saw his team get fined. Then last weekend in Hungary he scored a DNF following a collision with Robert Kubica.
Sutil has been courted by teams in the past, but this is the first time he has openly suggested he may move. With the top teams all being locked down for 2011, his main option for move appears to be with Renault. Talented Russian Vitaly Petrov could be on his way out of the team, and Sutil is in high contention for the race seat fighting against the likes of Kimi Raikkonen, Timo Glock and Bruno Senna.
“I’m happy at Force India but I want to move forward,” Sutil said this morning
“The top teams are pretty much closed, so it’s hard to find a better seat than here.
“Scoring points regularly was my goal for this season and next year I want to improve again, whether it’s somewhere else, or here.”
He added: “It’s a tough decision to make right now.
“If you are signing up for something like three years and you’re not confident the team is better, then you shouldn’t do it.”
Force India and Red Bull Racing have confirmed that they will be running F-Ducts in the practice sessions for the Turkish Grand Prix this weekend as they evaluate whether the air flow control mechanism is a worthy new technical advancement to their cars.
Vitantonio Liuzzi told reporters that the Force India team were very confident of their system, a system which is operated by the drivers wrist.
“We are really optimistic about it,” Liuzzi said. “You can never know. It might change tomorrow, but the team has done a big work in the wind tunnel for the last two weeks to test it and it seemed to work pretty well.
“Tomorrow we’ll get the confirmation because on track you never know, but we are pretty optimistic that it should be spot on.”
“We made a simple system with the wrist so we don’t have to take the hand off the steering wheel,” he added.
Meanwhile Red Bull Racing’s man of the moment Mark Webber told reporters in the pre-race press conference that Red Bull were to evaluate their own F-Duct system as they try and maintain their recent dominance.
“Yes, we will give the F-duct a go tomorrow,” Webber said during a pre-event press conference in Turkey. “We will give it a chance.”
Ferrari, who were one of the first teams to use the system are going to try a variation on the position of the hole that needs to be covered in order to stall the air during practice.
Paul di Resta has told of how he will sit out free practice testing duties for Force India this weekend in Istanbul park as the Silverstone based team use their two race drivers to evaluate upgrades.
Di Resta has been used in place of one of the race drivers at various race free practices on Friday’s this season as the team evaluate the DTM racer for a potential future race seat.
However the bosses at Force India have decided they want Adrian Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi to give them experienced feedback on new parts being put on the car this weekend.
Speaking about the decision, di Resta said: “It was a late call from the team but I completely understand their decision as there are some new upgrades coming through this race that really need the drivers’ and the team’s attention.
“I’ll still be there in the garage, trying to learn as much as I can as the developments are pretty exciting. I’ve still done all the groundwork, going in the simulator for some running as I’ve never driven Istanbul Park before.
“It’s a pretty busy time of the year for me as well with the DTM race in Valencia between Monaco and Turkey. But it’s keeping me sharp and focused on racing, which is the best possible situation for me right now.”
Vitantonio Liuzzi has laughed off rumours linking Force India test driver Paul di Resta taking his race seat with the Silverstone based team.
Liuzzi tested for Force India before gaining a permanent race seat for this season, spending time waiting in the wings following time with Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Results for the highly rated Italian have been up and down, and often not as good as his team mate. This sparked rumours that Di Resta could take his seat, the DTM ace performing well in Friday tests. However Liuzzi had a great race in Monaco and says he is not concerned at losing his seat.
“I am not worried about these rumours; speculation is always at the door and all over the papers,” he said in his exclusive column with ESPNF1. “I have a contract for two years with Force India and they believe in me and I believe in them, so our relationship is very good. They know exactly the problems I was having in China and Spain and they know that it was not due to anything else.
“Also I scored points at the first two races and again in Monaco, so they can see that I’m very much fighting for the team to meet its targets. It really doesn’t worry me that this sort of stuff is printed and it’s quite normal that you get this kind of speculation when you are competing at the highest level.”
Force India’s chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer said last week: “We still support Tonio fully. t was never the plan to race Paul this year.”
Stefan GP have not been granted an entry into the 2010 Formula One season, and will not be allowed to compete unitl potentially 2011 as the FIA consider opening up entries fo the next season of racing to newcomers.
Stefan have already got a car and sent equipment to Bahrain, and despite USF1 not competing this season the Serbian outfit cannot take their place.
“Having considered the various options, the FIA confirms that it is not possible for a replacement team to be entered for the Championship at this late stage,” the FIA said.
“In the coming days the FIA will announce details of a new selection process to identify candidates to fill any vacancies existing at the start of the 2011 season.”
USF1 are listed as deferring their entry until 2011 on the list, and Sauber retain the BMW moniker at the start of the name while Campos become HRT as mentioned yesterday.
Official 2010 Entry List
1 Jenson BUTTON (GBR) VODAFONE McLAREN MERCEDES (GB) 2 Lewis HAMILTON (GBR) VODAFONE McLAREN MERCEDES (GB) 3 Michael SCHUMACHER (D) MERCEDES GP PETRONAS FORMULA ONE TEAM 4 Nico ROSBERG (D) MERCEDES GP PETRONAS FORMULA ONE TEAM 5 Sebastian VETTEL (D) RED BULL RACING (AUT) 6 Mark WEBBER (AUS) RED BULL RACING (AUT) 7 Felipe MASSA (BRA) SCUDERIA FERRARI MARLBORO (I) 8 Fernando ALONSO (ESP) SCUDERIA FERRARI MARLBORO (I) 9 Rubens BARRICHELLO (BRA) AT&T WILLIAMS (GB) 10 Nico HÜLKENBERG (D) AT&T WILLIAMS (GB) 11 Robert KUBICA (POL) RENAULT F1 TEAM (FRA) 12 Vitaly PETROV (RUS) RENAULT F1 TEAM (FRA) 14 Adrian SUTIL (D) FORCE INDIA F1 TEAM (IND) 15 Vitantonio LIUZZI (I) FORCE INDIA F1 TEAM (IND) 16 Sébastien BUEMI (CH) SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO (I) 17 Jaime ALGUERSUARI (ESP) SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO (I) 18 Jarno TRULLI (I) LOTUS RACING (MAL) 19 Heikki KOVALAINEN (FIN) LOTUS RACING (MAL) 20 TBA HRT F1 TEAM (ESP) 21 Bruno SENNA (BRA) HRT F1 TEAM (ESP) 22 Pedro DE LA ROSA (ESP) BMW SAUBER F1 TEAM (CH) 23 Kamui KOBAYASHI (J) BMW SAUBER F1 TEAM (CH) 24 Timo GLOCK (D) VIRGIN RACING (GB) 25 Luca DI GRASSI (BRA) VIRGIN RACING (GB)
Nico Hulkenberg narrowly beat Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso on the second day of the final test in Barcelona.
The German driver did just under 100 laps as many drivers concentrated their morning runs on qualifying performance, and the afternoon on higher fuelrace based simulations with Bahrain being just 2 weeks away.
De la Rosa was 3rd with another impressive performance from Sauber, with Liuzzi showing the Force India pace with an impressive 4th.
Vettel and Alguersuari were close in 5th and 6th, despite the Toro Rosso now running its own chassis and aerodynamic package separate from the Red Bull teams, both ahead of Michael Schumacher in 7th however.
The new teams of Lotus and Virgin were still at the bottom of the timesheets however.
Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:20.614 99 2. Alonso Ferrari (B) 1:20.637 134 3. de la Rosa BMW-Sauber (B) 1:20.973 114 4. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes (B) 1:21.056 90 5. Vettel Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:21.258 125 6. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:21.571 104 7. M.Schumacher Mercedes GP (B) 1:21.689 85 8. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:22.152 93 9. Kubica Renault (B) 1:24.912 53 10. Trulli Lotus-Cosworth (B) 1:25.524 70 11. Glock Virgin-Cosworth (B) 1:25.942 52