The Force India squad is – as yet – refusing to be drawn on the range of speculative theories as to its driver line-up for the 2011 season, with over half a dozen drivers allegedly up for consideration.
Despite both its current drivers, Adrian Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi, seemingly having contract extensions in the bag for next season, the FIA recently published an entry list for the 2011 F1 season, listing ‘TBA’ next to the driver names for both race seats in the Vijay Mallya owned outfit.
While Force India managed to achieve an impressive seventh in the Constructors’ Championship standings with 68 points, it may have good cause to hold concerns over both Sutil and Liuzzi, with the former being openly critical of the team’s performance and suffering a dramatic form slump in the latter half of the season, while Liuzzi was widely considered to be one of the season’s least-impressive drivers, despite a career-best haul of 21 championship points.
Seemingly waiting in the wings are a consortium of drivers – if you believe the rumours – who are believed to include the team’s reserve driver (and newly-crowned DTM champion) Paul di Resta, while the out-of-contract drivers such as Nico Hülkenberg and Nick Heidfeld are also possible candidates.
The less likely – although more commercially pleasing – prospects would be either of the sport’s Indian drivers, in the form of Karun Chandhok and Narain Karthikeyan, who have both been linked with the outfit in recent weeks.
Popular consensus has di Resta best placed to replace the out-of-favour Liuzzi in 2011, with fellow Scot and three-time World Champion Sir Jackie Stewart placing his full support by the 24-year-old.
“I don’t see any reason why Paul shouldn’t be on the grid next year,” he told the Edinburgh Evening News. “He’s impressed everyone with what he’s achieved during his Friday test sessions with Force India this year, and he’s fast.”
Meanwhile, Hülkenberg is getting support from another three-time World Champion, Niki Lauda, who believes the former Williams driver would be an ideal partner for Sutil in 2011.
“On sporting criteria alone, Force India should have Sutil and Hulkenberg in 2011,” he told Switzerland’s Blick newspaper.
[Original image via Sutton Images]