You could call it a championship before the championship, the final seat can go to one driver only. With rumours linking Narian Kartikayen to Force India disappearing into a sea of forgotten stories, only Jules Bianchi and Adrian Sutil remain.
Force India’s lacklustre attitude towards the driver announcement has been shameful, their preparations appear slow and I don’t expect that they will have much sympathy from the fans if this counts against them.
Who would you choose? I have asked this question copious times and, whilst support is there for the ever-present Sutil, ultimately it seems, the fan favourite is Bianchi. Each has extensive credentials that would warrant a place amongst the class of 2013.
Adrian Sutil himself has been a casualty of Formula 1. Once booted out, following an assault conviction, he was replaced by Nico Hulkenberg. The young talent replaced the more experienced driver – his re-emergence may, to some, show that the pattern of ‘out with the old and in with the new’ is not vastly dominant.
Experience is possibly his own weapon against Bianchi. Nintety five points from ninety races may not be the best statistic but at least he is a known quantity.
Indeed, hiring Sutil would give major hints as to their future plans. With speculation continuing that a switch to Ferrari engines could be on the cards, Bianchi’s links to Ferrari may be futile until 2014 – a classic case of sporting politics.
It may also suggest that Paul Di Resta is the focus of their 2013 campaign. Rather than investing in a young talent like Bianchi, the Silverstone outfit may opt to place the Scot at the heart of their season. With previous experience alongside Sutil, this would be a safe, if not, controversial approach.
One more factor could be considered. Money. Yes that word that has plagued this season could be back. Sutil reportedly brings $8 million in funding from sponsorship and endorsement deals. With all the news surrounding team principal Vijay Mallya and his fight to retain cash flow amongst his businesses, this would be a welcome relief. Ultimately if it is enough to secure the jobs of the mechanics, perhaps we can’t argue with that.
Jules Bianchi is Ferrari’s latest prodigy, their former test driver and one to watch. Regardless of Force India’s (eventual) decision, a future in Formula 1 perhaps appears inevitable. The Frenchman performed well in the first round of pre season testing. Bianchi 1, Sutil 0…for a matter of days.
Unlike the current incumbent of rookie drivers, Bianchi does not bring heavy funding. He is reliant purely on his talent and Formula Renault 2.0 victory. His connections to Ferrari acts as his greates asset, not be sniffed at when you consider that their academy’s last investment was Sergio Perez.
Hiring Bianchi would ensure continuity especially if Paul Di Resta does as many suggests and decides not to out stay his welcome with the team. It may seem odd given that the cars are yet to fire up their engines in Melbourne, but planning for the 2014 model will have partly begun. With major rule changes expecting to shake up the grid, now may be the time to give a rookie his chance.
Bianchi has been patient which is very admirable. Sutil’s resilience is too comendable. Drivers are judged based on their ability to rise up from the ashes of despair.
It’s a tough call and not one I would want to make.
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