An F1 neutral would have been taken aback but not fully surprised at the possibility of Narain Karthikeyan gaining the second seat at Force India.
As a driver he is not accomplished and does not appear to have the talent and speed that is required to succeed at motorsports' highest level. The one thing he does have, however, is a healthy financial backing. It has been speculated that this may be what sways Vijay Mallya's decision.
You only have to look at what happened to the under rated Timo Glock at Marussia to recognise the possibility. Glock could not bring the necessary funds to sustain a drive, meaning his contract was cut short, and he is now without a seat for 2013.
It seemed a ridiculous decision to let a respected and experienced driver go, but in the current economical climate it was just another instance of monetary value subverting substance and style.
Force India did vocalise opposition to this idea. They wanted to take talent over the pay driver option. They see money being made from the output in the long term rather than the short-term input.
Therefore, speculation over Karthikeyan's opportunity for the drive seemed to contradict this expressed point of view.
Maybe it was just the Indian driver feeling optimistic about turning a reserve drive option into a first-team one, through his financial incentive.
The other candidates that had been previously reported were former Force India driver Adrian Sutil, and their 2012 reserve man Jules Bianchi.
In preseason testing in Jerez, Bianchi showed promising pace, laying down a good marker for anyone else who tests for the role.
Now news emerges that Sutil has had a seat fitting with Force India, suggesting he may be put forward for the next testing period in Barcelona. This would provide an opportunity for the German to show his potential and see if he still has what it takes to perform.
Narain Karthikeyan has yet to be afforded this opportunity.
Such news is positive from a neutral perspective, as it illustrates what Formula 1 should be all about; the competition and the ability to be able to compete.
You never know, Sutil could fall flat on his face. He has not driven in anything worthy of note in his year out of the sport.
Yet his consistency and improved performance towards the back end of his time at Force India demonstrated what he is capable of. At this point he was outscoring and outperforming his now established teammate Paul Di Resta.
You can't help but feel that Sutil still has the potential to develop, as does Bianchi. Through this development the team can progress. Their aim for fifth in the constructors' title can be realised if they have two drivers chosen on skill, who can achieve consistent points scoring results.
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