Force India has finally revealed one of the worst-kept driver line-up secrets, officially confirming it has promoted reserve driver Paul di Resta to the role of Adrian Sutil’s team-mate, while appointing Nico Hülkenberg to the role of test and reserve driver for 2011. The announcement means that Vitantonio Liuzzi – who holds a seemingly valid contract to drive for the team – is out of the team.
The press conference – held at the White & Mackay distillery in Glasgow and hosted by none other than BBC F1’s Lee McKenzie – gave away the game before it had even been announced, and several news agencies jumped the gun to confirm the driver line-up before it had officially been announced, in spite of rather weak protests from Force India’s press figure controlling their Twitter feed.
In the end, the announcement that everyone had expected was made, with absolutely no mention of the departing Liuzzi in any of the official press releases or Q&A sessions. Liuzzi supporters were quick to vent their spleen on the social media channels, with one writing “Courtesy costs nothing; hope [their] breach of contract costs a bit”.
Liuzzi was indeed believed to be in possession of a seemingly watertight contract to drive for the team in 2011, and it remains to be seen what settlement has been, or can be, negotiated for the Italian, who now finds his F1 career at the crossroads once again.
It is believed that di Resta’s appointment comes with the negotiating piece that Force India would receive the supply of the Mercedes KERS system for free, effectively saving the outfit some $6 million a season in costs on top of the $12 million is already pays the German carmaker to use their V8 engines each year.
[Original image via LAT]