Adrian Sutil, Paul di Resta, Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 2011

Who should drive for Force India in 2012?

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Adrian Sutil, Paul di Resta, Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 2011
Adrian Sutil, Paul di Resta, Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 2011

Force India face a difficult decision over their driver line-up for 2011.

In Adrian Sutil, Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg they have three credible candidates for two race seats.

Should they plump for performance over consistency? Experience over potential? Compare the drivers and cast your vote below.

Adrian Sutil

Sutil enjoyed better form in the second half of 2011 than the first, being one of several drivers who raised their game as they became more familiar with the Pirelli tyres.

His season got off to a shaky start as he was often out-qualified by di Resta. He turned that around in the final races and ended up edging his team mate 10-9 over the course of the year.

Sutil is being compared against two drivers who have had only one season in Formula 1 so it’s worth reminding ourselves of his form in his debut season. Driving for the short-lived Spyker team in 2007, points were seldom on offer but eighth place in the rain-soaked Japanese Grand Prix put him on the board.

He compared well against Christijan Albers, who was dropped halfway through the year and Sakon Yamamoto, who spent the final seven races with the team.

The team became Force India the following year and Sutil has remained with them ever since. Only Felipe Massa has been with his present team longer than Sutil.

They are well-placed to judge his strengths and weaknesses and decided whether the experience of Sutil is worth trading against the potential of his two team mates.

Paul di Resta

Di Resta impressed in his first season of F1, not least by completing more laps than any other driver.

Di Resta wasn’t just dependable. He was also quick, taking sixth on the grid for his home race at Silverstone – Force India’s best qualifying result of the year – and was especially impressive on the streets of Singapore, bringing the car home in sixth place.

It’s no secret that the ultimate measures of performance were tilted in Sutil’s favour at the end of the season: he out-scored di Resta 42 points to 27, finished ahead ten times versus six, and spent 562 laps ahead of his team mate compared to 479 for di Resta.

But this is hardly an emphatic margin of superiority for a five-year veteran of the sport versus a first-timer. Particularly when Force India’s late-season strategy of splitting strategies between their drivers is taken into account – a policy that ensured the team collected vital points for the constructors championship but, as with di Resta in India, could leave one of their drivers vulnerable.

Nico Hulkenberg

Nico H???lkenberg, Fernando Alonso, Interlagos, 2010

It was no reflection on Hulkenberg’s ability that he failed to keep his place at Williams in 2011. The scarcity of sponsors’ logos on the FW33, aside from the PDVSA stickers arriving courtesy of Pastor Maldonado, tells you all you need to know about what happened there.

Hulkenberg’s 2010 record is dismissed by the unenlightened as ‘one fluky pole position’. This is nonsense – not least because his season-defining performance at a damp Interlagos produced not one but two lap times which the likes of Sebastian Vettel were unable to better for pole position.

Hulkenberg made his mark earlier in the season with another notable (though less celebrated) qualifying performance in the rain at Sepang, lining up fifth, half a second ahead of Rubens Barrichello.

As the season progress he was increasingly on a par with Barrichello in the races too, and scored points in six of the last ten races.

Small wonder Force India snapped him up as he slipped through Williams’ fingers, and have taken every reasonable opportunity to give him mileage in practice next year.

Who should drive for Force India in 2012?

Who do you think should drive for Force India next year? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

Who should drive for Force India in 2012?

  • Some other combination (2%)
  • Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg (59%)
  • Adrian Sutil and Nico Hulkenberg (15%)
  • Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta (24%)

Total Voters: 363

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Images ?? Force India F1 Team, Williams/LAT

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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129 comments on “Who should drive for Force India in 2012?”

  1. I voted Hulkenberg + di Resta on one condition : that Sutil can find another seat. All three drivers are great drivers. But I think Di Resta has potential, and Hulkenberg even more! It’s essential that Hulk gets a race seat : he needs to evolve, because I think he has a lot to show in F1. Sutil is talented, but he has spent to much time in Force India, he needs a bit fo change I think. A move to Williams could be positive, because I think the team will perform better next year, and Adrian could look good in an improving team!

    1. Totally agree, Sutil deserves a better team. Hope he gets that Lotus (Renault) seat along Raikkonen.
      Di Resta and Hulk might make FI look all young and fresh but I can’t help a feeling that the team will get less competitive without Sutil.

      1. I have thought for a couple of seasons that Sutil needs to change teams to progress his career, I would love to see him take Massa’s seat at Ferrari and would even suggest a straight swap… Massa might have the experience and speed that Force India need to take that next step up the grid and start challenging Lotus and Mercedes for 4th spot.

        Di Resta has had a storming rookie season, even better I feel that Hulk’s last season… and for that reason deserves a seat.

        Hulk was impressive in his rookie season and continues to impress in FP, he really needs a race seat to continue his improvement as a driver.

        Force India to my mind has a number of problems that are hindering it… the biggest of which is that they need a faster car and the ability to maintain the development of their car throughout the season, my question is which drivers are best able to do that….

    2. As soon as I saw this article,I had the same thought, DIR + Hulk with condition that Sutil going to Williams, you stole me words ;)

      1. Sutil won’t be going to LRGP; not with glass wounds in Eric Lux’s neck.

        1. They had a little “incident” with Kimi too last year. Now it looks as if nothing happened.

          1. Verbal Spat vs Nightclub Glassing. Which is more easily patched up?

          2. @jholland

            Which is more easily patched up?

            The verbal spat is hard to patch up because of the emotional trauma involved, but the glassing only requires a few stitches :)

        2. It seems the team is now willing to ignore that unpleasant incident @portugoose, so I think Sutil could end up either in Enstone (with Kimi, the man who punted him out of a spectacular Monaco finish!) or at Williams.

          I think Force India needs to take a step to a freshened up line-up and its a good step to give Hulk the chance to show he can be at the front of that move with DiResta.

          Sutil might thrive from a new environment as well (just look at Heikki!) as he is a really solid driver and it would be nice to be able to see how he does against another driver in a different team.

          1. Well said, I also chose for Di Resta + Hulk, though I do think Sutil is deserving of a seat in F1; Sutil hasn’t outperformed the team, and the team haven’t always given him the best equipment, esp. later last year. Maybe it’s time for both to try a different set up and get some fresh energy from their growth through the 2011 season.

    3. I feel the exact same way, but I defaulted to keep Sutil. I just hope he gets a drive.

    4. But I think Di Resta has potential, and Hulkenberg even more!


      how is that true? di resta fair enough he has had an excellent season and is looking very good, but hulkenburg?? he had a mediocre season in terms of performance finishing 14th with less that half the points of barichello. i know that he was more experienced, but a true talent gets closer to their experieneced team mate like di resta this year and hamilton in 07. this article is also misleading people about hulkenburgs performances, in sepang 2010 alonos, massa, hamilton and button were all out in Q1 and Q2 because they didn’t st banker laps and button went onto the gravel. this means that if we were to put them back into the equation that it would have been a ninth place, nothing to celebate about really.

      the pole position was not flukey at all…. but it was not based on performance at all. all the teams knew that the race would be dry, so they set the car up for qualifying instead of the race and what happened, he finished 8th. any top ten car could have beat vettel with a wet set up on a wet track when vettel had a dry set up.

      sutil deserves this seat and i dont see why he should be pushed out for a competely overated driver. sutil is a great driver and if vijay mallaya doesn’t go with sutil then he will know how wrong he is by the end of 2012

  2. Im Scottish so obviously Di Resta would be my 1st pick for the seat if i was picking my favourite driver

    However on what i’ve seen Suitil deserves to go into 2012 as the No1 Force india drive, had some awesome drives in 2009 when he got a decent car after spa so he hasnt suddenly found form after 5 years!

    The Hulk has impressed me since his A1 days and if i had to i would say i rate his 1st season performance JUST over Di Resta’s 1st season as well

    However i’ve thought all along that Hulk and Di Resta will be the two drivers they choose

  3. Maybe Vijay should be the one pleading for 3 car teams.

    1. It’s so hard to pick! I chose di Resta and Hulkenberg, because Nico deserves a seat and Paul has been excellent. Sutil’s been awesome in the second part of this season, and I wouldn’t drop him, but out of those three drivers I think he’s the one with more options to consider as he’s been in the team for too long, and the one with less margin of improvement.

  4. Adrian Sutil has been an incredibly good driver this season. Unlike last year, Vijay Mallya has a very tough decision to make. On the one hand, Sutil and di Resta have both been really good; on the other, Nico Hulkenberg really impressed in 2010 and deserves a chance. I prefer the di Resta/Hulkenberg liineup because both guys are my own age and Hulk is really good-looking. But in terms of ability and with Force India’s gains on Renault this season, as a team boss I might be looking to keep Sutil as I know he is a great driver and will be less of a risk than two with only a season under their belt.
    However, Paul di Resta had a good season and surely he can only get better next year. With Sutil likely to end up at Williams, he will not be lost from F1 like Nico will be if he’s not chosen. And Williams could do with a decent driver to partner Maldonado. Sutil will also bring them a bit of cash. (I don’t think Barrichello will stay in F1 next season)
    Sutil has been at that team for a very long time, and it will be good for him to have a change. Sometimes, having a punt on inexperienced drivers works, as Sauber have proven.
    So I am going for di Resta and Hulk.

    1. I prefer the di Resta/Hulkenberg liineup because both guys are my own age and Hulk is really good-looking

      Not entirely sure you’re looking at the same aspects as Vijay and the rest of us ;)

    2. Nico Hulkenberg really impressed in 2010

      other than brazil which drives can you remember of hulkenburgs?? (without using wikipedia)

      brazil 2010 was overated, he had a wet set up for the session when all teams knew it was going to be dry and in the race he paid the price, the team went for glory on saturday, thats all

  5. I feel the current combo is the best. Experience is needed to continuously develop the car. And two drivers with one year of experience can only provide you with so much, however good they are. We saw that happened with Senna and Petrov this summer and Eric Boulier has himself said, Nick didnt contribute much, and not much was expected from Petrov and Senna. Paul needs atleast another season to gain more experience.

    I really wish for Hulkenberg to get a seat, but I dont think there is one where he can be accommodated. May be a test role at Mercedes, with move to drivers next season.

    1. @rahul1810

      I really wish for Hulkenberg to get a seat, but I dont think there is one where he can be accommodated. May be a test role at Mercedes, with move to drivers next season.

      If Hulkenberg were to join Mercedes as a test driver in 2012, he won’t be promoted to a race seat in 2013. His career will be pretty much over. Mercedes placed Paul di Resta at Force India, and they are obviously grooming him for bigger and better things. They probably want to get him into a Mercedes GP seat once Schumacher or Rosberg retires or moves on. If Hulkenberg joins them as a test driver, then that means another year on the sidelines; he’ll have spent two years out of a full-time drive while Paul di Resta – the favoured son of Stuttgart – gets two full years of racing experience. If you were Ross Brawn and you had two young drivers and one of them had two years’ racing experience while the other was limited to testing and Friday running for two years, who would you pick? The smart money picks Paul di Resta each and every single time.

      Nico Hulkenberg’s problem is that there is already a fast, young German driver in the sport: Sebastian Vettel. Hulkenberg cannot fill that niche unless Vettel retires tomorrow. His old maanger, Willi Weber, appears to have spotted a role for Hulkenberg to fill: as Michael Schumacher’s heir – the driver who Schumacher gave his blessing to as the next German sensation in Formula 1. In order to do that, Hulkenberg needs to race alongside Schumacher (filling the second Mercedes seat), or directly beneath him (filling Schumacher’s current seat, with Schumacher mentoring him). But with Mercedes grooming Paul di Resta or a future with the team, Hulkenberg needs to make his case to them, and he needs to make it quickly. If he wants Mercedes’ attention, then the easiest way to do it is to trounce di Resta within Force India, to show Mercedes that Paul di Resta is fast, but Nico Hulkenberg is faster. That’s the only way he’s going to get that Mercedes drive.

        1. @rahul1810 – Williams and Renault are looking unlikely. Sutil is sponsored by Medion, and Medion are owned by Lenovo. Lenovo just left Williams for McLaren, so Sutil will have a hard time convincing one of their subsidiaries to join them.

          As for Renault, Adrian Sutil was accused of glassing one of their team members, Eric Lux, in a Shanghai nightclub shortly after the Chinese Grand Prix. Why on earth would they take him after that episode?

          1. Because it is business. last year Kimi had thrashed the Renault team in public for saying that they were having talks in advanced stages in him, when there was just one contact, but look where he is now.

            You can’t really say what is happening. At Interlagos, Sutil’s manager was seen talking to various teams including Renault. You can never say ever in this business. However chances of Renault even I admit are low, as the incident was big and recent.

            However I feel, if Renault wishes to challenge Mercedes next year, it would be simpler having someone with experience of Sutil alongside Paul, and likewise if Force india wish to move up and challenge Renault, they need Sutil. Its obvious that I I am not suggesting that they can’t without him, but it would be easier with him.

            Its exciting predicting the market. Hope the mystery gets solved fast!

          2. @rahul1810 – Even if Renault can forgive a case of grievous bodily harm, why would they give up Petrov for Sutil, when Petrov brings twice as much money to the team? As you say, “it’s all business”, and Vitaly Petrov is a better deal than Adrian Sutil.

          3. By business, I did nit mean money. I meant what is best for the team, no matter of heart involved. Also I dont think that difference between Petrov and Sutil would be that huge. The team must also think, is 5 million extra brought by him better or a supposedly better performance in championship.

            I know the chances are less, but what I mean to say is, its not impossible.

          4. I meant what is best for the team, no matter of heart involved.

            Drivers aren’t just assessed on talent. They’re assessed on their sponsor packages. If they can bring millions of dollars into a team, then that is good for the team.

      1. @Prisoner Monkeys

        Mercedes placed Paul di Resta at Force India, and they are obviously grooming him for bigger and better things.

        As you would say on Wikipedia. Citation please!

    2. We saw that happened with Senna and Petrov this summer

      Who are “we”? Are there more than one person writing under your name? What happened this summer with Senna and Petrov?

      Better yet, find the (in)famous Petrov’s interview and read it. He basically says new parts were coming in but they worked poorly on the car due to the front facing exhaust. They were racing pretty much the same car all season long.

      1. Well said …

        I’d put money on any driver doing mediocre in the R31. The car hardly progressed all season.

  6. I’m going to throw another hat into the ring: Vitaly Petrov. Especially if Adrian Sutil (who is said to have $8 million from Medion) leaves the team.

    Vijay Mallya is doing a very good job of covering it up, but Kingfisher Airlines is visibly limping, and I don’t think the ruse is going to last for much longer. He’s paying 20% interest on bank loans in an industry where the average is between 6 and 7%, and he’s refusing a public bailout. The team has a $100 million buy-in from the Sahara Group, but most of India is going to be watching Mallya very closely – any excessive spending is going to upset both the applecart and the public. The exact amount that Vitaly Petrov brings to the team is unknown, but it is said to be around $15 million, which is about the going rate for a major sponsor these days. I think it is unlikely that Kingfisher will appear on the car in 2012, in which case Petrov’s money will isolate the team from the airline, and insulate it from the fallout if Kingfisher goes belly-up. Furthermore, Petrov would be of use to Force India: he is, after all, the man who protected Renault’s fifth place in the WCC this season. Without the points Petrov scored in the second half of the year, Force India would have surpassed Renault. I think it would be in Force India’s interests to try and secure someone who raked in enough points in a bad car to head them off; he’s evidently done something right, given the way Force India finished the season. That said, I think the idea of Petrov joining Force India is unlikely.

    However, if Kingfisher does go belly-up, then all bets are off as to who will drive for the team, because it is unlikely that Vijay Mallya will stay with the team.

    1. KingFisher is not the only Indian Airline in trouble. Also, with Sahara in the picture we wouldn’t know how much power they have in driver choice. Mallaya has always maintained FI as a exhibition for his products, hence the absence of any other sponsors(which Joe-Saward thinks is trouble for FI-till Sahara came along). Even if Kingfisher airlines went bankrupt Mallaya’s UB group is still making enough in liquor sale. Also Mallaya has enough problems at hand, why add one more to the circus?

      1. KingFisher is not the only Indian Airline in trouble.

        Nope, but it’s in a pretty precarious position. In fact, all of them are. If one of them goes under, they could drag other airliners with them.

        with Sahara in the picture we wouldn’t know how much power they have in driver choice.

        Sahara control 42.5% of the team. Vijay Mallya controls 42.5% of the team. The other 10% is controlled by Mallya’s business partner, Michel Mol (who organised Spyker’s entry to the sport). If Kingfisher spirals out of control, Mol could join with Sahara to form a minorty shareholding, and Mallya would lose all his power in the team since Mol and Sahara would control 52.5% of the team.

        Even if Kingfisher airlines went bankrupt Mallaya’s UB group is still making enough in liquor sale.

        I’ve heard he’s going to try and use over a billion dollars from United Breweries to leverage Kingfisher. It’s an incredible risk, because if Kingfisher goes, it will drag UB down with it – and so far, none of the loans from banks and consortiums have made much of a difference to Kingfisher.

        Mallaya has enough problems at hand, why add one more to the circus?
        Why indeed? He’s already up the proverbial creek without a paddle – maybe he should give up control of Force India now and focus on saving Kingfisher. He won’t be able to control the team if Kingfisher (and possibly UB) goes. At least this way, he’d get to salvage something out of it.

        1. @prisoner-monkeys

          Sahara control 42.5% of the team. Vijay Mallya controls 42.5% of the team. The other 10% is controlled by Mallya’s business partner, Michel Mol

          You say “the other 10%”, but there is 15% remaining. Does someone else control 5%? And where do you get all these figures? I’m not challenging them, I’m just curious.

          1. Press releases when deals are confirmed to the media

          2. @estesark

            You say “the other 10%”, but there is 15% remaining. Does someone else control 5%?

            No, Mol controls that 15%. It’s just a mistake on my part – I added the parts up wrong.

            And where do you get all these figures?

            Just general knowledge, really.

            Press releases when deals are confirmed to the media

            Why do you always assume that I simply regurgitate what I read in press releases and pass it off as my own knowledge, TheBrav3? You did it the other day when I pointed out parts of Venezuelan law that would potentially make the PDVSA-Williams illegal. I do read articles, and I do read press releases, but I read much, much more than those. I often go off and research things on my own, so that I understand the subject better and my posts here can reflect that.

          3. Because PM you have learned it from a source most likely from a press release first. This information does not appear in your head by magic as it doesn’t with anyone else fair enough?

        2. Just as we see with countries and banks, it’s about exposure; I don’t know how Mallya organises his debts, but it is à possibility that hè Has to sell out

          1. ..and in that case all bets are open again. If the new owners need money, who knows? Sutil + another paydriver?

            Although, if I were to decide now, I would go for DiResta and Hulkenberg.

            Sutil fought decently this last half year, but I think it’s better for both himself and the team if he goes elsewhere.

    2. hey, are you Petrov manager, boyfriend or something? I mean, you just talk about how good Petrov is .. how money he brings… … and bla bla bla bla bla …

    3. Hmmm.. I think your pretty badly mistaken. I did a case study on Indian businessmen and I like to believe I know a thing or two about Dr. Mallya.

      Kingfisher Airlines is NOT the only thing he earns. In fact, it contributes to less than 10% of his net worth! That statement itself buts your whole comment to waste. He is/was a member of Indian parliament and hence the data is available.

      Look up United Spirits Ltd. (USL) and more importantly the UB group. You’ll see why your COMPLETELY off the mark.

  7. Paul and Sutil.

    1. Meant to say Hulk and Sutil :(

      1. I reckon force india isn’t the kind of team to drop a new hopefull after a season unless they do terrible. They even kept tried and tested liuzzi on for a year after he replaced fisi.

        So 100% paul will be there then i hope nico will join but i have a feeling that adrian maybe required as insurance on the point scoreing front. I don’t think they have a chance of getting 5th in the constructors next year but they wont want to go back to 7th or lower either.

        I have to say though the last 3 races nico and paul have looked rather happy like 2 guys who may know they already have contracts but have to keep quiet. Adrian on the other hand looked pretty much more nervous about it each time he was asked race by race untill brazil when he put on his poker face.

        I’m probably wrong but thats my impression from watching those 3 guys. Tomorrow fi may announce a team japan line up of takuma sato and sakon yamamoto stranger things have happened.

      2. I went Hulk an Sutil. Hulkenburg has probably enough potential to become a top line driver..

        Sutil I don’t think will ever be great, however he is solid enough and has been there since the start, which I think is invaluable to the team.

        All three should be in F1 however, I think Di Resta also has a place in F1 and has the performances to back that up. For a rookie he has been impressive.

        1. I’ll back up my Sutil point by saying, he’s only been outscored by a team mate once, Fisi in 09. And he got more than double the points Liuzzi could manage in 2010.

  8. Went for Sutil and Di-Resta. Though the points margin might not be that big for a F1 Veteran versus Rookie comparison, have to take into account the limitations of the car which would mean that the point differences won’t be big given the way the midfield was bunched up. Di-Resta did a very commendable job, but made some crucial mistakes(Canada) and lost some major points with which he could have easily bettered Sutil.
    As for Hulkenberg, I don’t remember his pole lap much, but his battle with Hamilton whom failed to pass the Williams till the first round of pitstops. Nothing else springs to mind except his rally across chicanes in Monza. I believe FI would rue the coming season if they were to let go of Sutil.

    1. I know it’s thrown around alot on here but if you don’t remember it i would advise you to watch it again it was a brilliant lap. it was last man over the line stuff so much so that williams took their first pole in 5 years?

      1. Hardly last man over the line stuff since he was on pole even before he finished his last lap!

        1. hahahaha yes but he was the last man over the line before the checkerd. :)

  9. Definitely Sutil + Hulkenberg: Sutil has shown incredible pace this season (6th in both the German as the Brazilian GP), not to mension the team needs someone with more than two seasons of experience. Now that’s sorted, we should now choose between Di Resta and the Hulk. That’s easy for me: I believe Hulk has much greater potential than Di Resta.

    I get extrenely annoyed by the British media, saying he’s awesome every single day I’ve watched the BBC this year. For instance, giving him the ‘Rookie of the year award’, which clearly should have gone to Sergio Pérez. Luckily Mallya isn’t British, so he might make the right choise for the team.

    1. choi-c-e for the team.

    2. Sutil + Hulkenberg is what I picked as well. Di Resta was really good in his rookie season, but he still hasn’t been better than Sutil. Hulkenberg deserved to be on the grid this year and definitely should be given a shot after the pace he has shown on Fridays .

      Its a hard decision as all the drivers are really strong contenders. But I would think Sutil has the experience and speed to remain a valuable asset, while the 2nd seat is taken by a new young hot shot driver.

    3. These are pretty much my thoughts on the matter too. Hulk definitely has more potential than Di Resta IMHO (even though I am British) and Sutil, once he got used to the rubber, has been very impressive.

      I expect Di Resta to be a reserve driver. Those that think he is too good to go back a step maybe should remmeber what happened to Hulkenberg after his pretty good first season.

  10. Dammit Sutil…why can’t you be either completely rubbish or completely good in a season, not a combination of both! :D I’ve gone for Di Resta and Hulkenberg, only because I think it’d be good for Sutil to move onto a different team and mature even more as a driver. He’s only moving as fast as Force India are at the minute.

    1. I just hope all three of them find seats for next season. It could work out like this:

      Force India: di Resta, Hülkenberg
      Williams: Sutil, Maldonado
      Lotus/Renault: Räikkönen, Petrov

      I don’t think Lotus/Renault would hire Sutil, and I don’t think Hülkenberg would want to return to Williams.