Adrian Sutil’s manager Manfred Zimmermann has flatly rejected suggestions that his client is in negotiations with other teams for the 2012 season, following reports that the German paid a visit to Williams’ factory in recent weeks.
This is certainly odd, because all signs are pointing towards Adrian being squeezed out of his Force India seat at the end of the year…
Perhaps Sutil never did pay a visit to Grove to meet with the execs at Williams, but the very thought that Sutil would not be looking seriously at alternative drives next season simply beggars belief.
His contract with the Force India expires at the end of this year, and while his presence at the team is certainly assisted by the big bag of cash that his long-time sponsor, Medion Computers, brings to the table, it certainly does not guarantee him a long-term berth in Vijay Mallya’s outfit.
Zimmermann seems to think otherwise, and moved to distance his star driver from suggestions that he could switch camps during the off-season.
“Our first choice for 2012 is Force India,” he told the Daily Mail newspaper. “At this time there is no action talking to other teams.”
At Force India, we have a situation – as was the case last year – with three contracted drivers vying for two race seats. As a Mercedes-contracted driver, Paul di Resta looks set to remain with the team until such time as a vacancy becomes available at Mercedes GP when Michael Schumacher decides to call it a day. His presence is also useful for the team, helping to keeps its engine bill lower in exchange for blooding the young Scot in readiness for a role in a frontline outfit.
Similarly, having Nico Hülkenberg waiting in the wings as the team’s regular ‘Man Friday’ is equally concerning from Sutil’s side of the garage. Hülkenberg came to Force India at the eleventh hour after being sacked by Williams in exchange for Pastor Maldonado’s money, despite having an impressive debut season with the outfit.
He’s had ample running in the car this season, and it would be nonsensical for him to have negotiated a testing role at Force India without getting some guarantees in his favour for the 2012 season. The team has done similar deals with both di Resta and Vitantonio Liuzzi in the past, with both serving as test drivers before moving into the race seat later on. Admittedly, Force India also has a habit of not respecting contracts when it suits them as well…
Sutil has been part of the outfit since serving as a test driver in 2006, back when it was called Midland. He graduated to a race seat in 2007 when carmaker Spyker took control of the team, and stayed on when the team was taken over and rebranded as Force India in 2008.
He is undoubtedly a very quick driver when the mood and circumstances take him – most notably in the wet – but he’s not known for being technically-minded, and the allegations of brawling with Renault management at a nightclub after the Chinese Grand Prix certainly hammered his market value in the F1 paddock.
The exact details of the ‘glassing’ incident may never truly be known – indeed, word on the matter has gone very quiet in recent months – but the fact remains that Lotus Renault GP co-owner Eric Lux has some meaty scars on his neck that he attributes to a champagne glass attached to Sutil’s right hand.
So Sutil’s not looking elsewhere to remain in F1? Pull the other one, Manfred…
[Images via The Cahier Archive and RichardsF1.com]