FEBRUARY 4, 2013
Battle for Force India seat
Four drivers appear to be prominently in the running for the last race seat on the 2013 grid.
Strangely in the ultra-professional world of F1, Force India launched and debuted its new car, the VJM06, at Silverstone on Saturday with only one race driver under contract -- Paul di Resta.
"Whoever does that is surely having problems," mused veteran Swiss F1 correspondent Roger Benoit, who writes for Blick newspaper.
When asked the obvious question about the missing race driver, deputy boss Bob Fernley immediately admitted that Jules Bianchi and Adrian Sutil are candidates.
"Jules is a significant candidate, along with Adrian," he said. "And a few others.
"I think we shouldn't close any doors off."
Could one of the significant others be Bruno Senna, the former HRT and Williams driver? According to one rumour, Scot di Resta has confided to some that his teammate this year will be the well sponsored Brazilian.
Another rumour is that Japanese Kamui Kobayashi, despite already counting himself out of the running for 2013, is now back in the frame with new sponsors.
The biggest betting money, however, is on Frenchman Bianchi, the Nicolas Todt-managed rookie who was Force India's reserve driver last year.
His place might also be bundled with a Ferrari engine deal for 2014.
"If we'd had an ideal world," said Fernley, "we'd have liked to run Jules for two years as a third driver.
"What's happened with the Nico (Hulkenberg) departure is that it's just taken us out of our comfort zone in terms of where we were wanting to plan going forward."
Force India has said it plans to unveil the name of di Resta's 2013 teammate ahead of the second test in Barcelona later this month.