Adrian Sutil could make a return to the Formula 1 grid in 2013 – and reunite with the employer, Force India, who sacked him from his driving post less than a year ago…
After the most impressive season of his F1 career, the German was replaced at the end of the 2011 season by Nico Hülkenberg, who is now rumoured to be joining the Sauber team next year.
The Hülkenberg-to-Sauber rumour mill has been steadily building over the past weeks – perhaps as part of a longer-term switch to Ferrari in the coming years – but more recent India to keep its existing line-up of Hülkenberg and Paul di Resta.
But Force India team owner Vijay Mallya needs to keep some contingency measures in place, lest Hülkenberg move to Switerland.
Those rumoured to be waiting in the wings include the team’s reserve driver, Jules Banchi, along with former Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari, who has been making plenty of noise in recent weeks about making a return to the 2013 grid.
“I offered an extension to both drivers,” Mallya told the Reuters news agency during the Indian Grand Prix weekend.
“I hear from the media that Nico has signed with Sauber… well, if he has, then good luck to him. I have not been officially notified by Nico of anything; he hasn’t sat down with me and told me that. I would expect that he would if he was on his way. I have an excellent relationship with him; he’s a wonderful guy and he’s done well for us, but I won’t stand in his way.”
Sutil’s departure from Force India came in the midst of his being charged – and ultimately found guilty – of a grievous bodily harm case launched by Lotus F1 senior manager Eric Lux, who Sutil assaulted with a broken champagne flute in a Shanghai night club.
Aside from being hit with a hefty fine, Sutil managed to escape jail time, and he’s been a regular paddock visitor this year – often in Force India’s hospitality unit.
Many have felt that Sutil was harshly treated – both in his conviction and sacking at the end of 2011 – and that he’s now entered the frame is welcome news.
“Never forget I always have the potential of considering Sutil again,” Mallya added.
“Sutil is always quick. So there are many options. I would certainly consider him.”