Who Will Have the Force for 2011?

Ravikumar RajagopalCorrespondent INovember 25, 2010

MONZA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 10:  Paul Di Resta of Great Britain and Force India drives during practice for the Italian Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza on September 10, 2010 in Monza, Italy.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Force India may have just finished ahead of Sauber and Toro Rosso in the 2010 F1 constructors championship, but then Sauber just recovered from the whole BMW exit fiasco.

Toro Rosso, apart from the 2008 season where Vettel gave the team its only win in F1 so far and managed to place the team sixth in the table, have always been perennial backmarkers and is a training ground for Red Bull’s junior drivers.

If you look at the second half of the season, Sauber was actually better than Force India, while Williams managed to sneak past and finish ahead of Force India by just a point.

In the end, Force India managed only a seventh-place finish in the table, which was boosted by three new teams. A major worry for Force India is that a lot of key staff from the team has left to join other teams like Sauber and Lotus (or whatever it will be called).

Force India should address this situation immediately, or else the team may be further behind next season and will find the likes of Toro Rosso and even Lotus ahead of it.

The current set of drivers for the team, Adrian Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi, did not exactly have a stellar season and both were pretty patchy and inconsistent.

Sutil had a strong start to the season, but towards the end he really struggled, while Liuzzi was never really consistent but he was unlucky at times too.

Sutil and Liuzzi have been in F1 long enough, and with decent cars never really looked like they are going to set the world on fire.

Sutil all along was looking for a better drive and was linked to both Mercedes and Renault, but Schumacher has confirmed that he will race next season while with a Russian GP coming in 2014.

Petrov, apart from being a well-backed Russian, drove the race of his career in Abu Dhabi by managing to be ahead of Alonso and Webber, who were fighting for the title. But in the end, Petrov made Vettel’s job even easier.

Liuzzi has a contract with Force India for the next year, but then the team will be better off by buying him out of his contract, as he has lost them more money on the track and in the end they lost sixth place to the Williams team by just a point.

Force India is a proven team with a decent car and currently has the most attractive seats on the grid for any driver.

In Paul di Resta, they have a young driver who is quick and backed by Mercedes. Since he is backed by Mercedes, the team can actually get some discount on the engines and even ask Mercedes to foot his bill.

But more importantly, di Resta won the Formula 3 Euroseries in 2006 and the man who he beat to the title is currently the youngest F1 champion in the world.

Only one man has a similar junior racing pedigree similar to Nico Hülkenberg and that is Lewis Hamilton. The only difference was that Hamilton made his debut in a McLaren, while the Hulk had his chance with a struggling, cash-strapped Williams team.

Though the Hulk had a slow start to the season, towards the end he was even better than his teammate Rubens Barrichello, who happens to be the most experienced driver on the grid.

Despite having an inferior car, the Hulk managed to get a pole position during the Brazilian Grand Prix and that definitely is not a fluke.

It is a shame to see that a team like Williams, with its rich heritage, is dropping an exciting rookie for a pay driver, but then the team has a history of treating drivers poorly and that, along with various other decisions, has now made the team a midfield team.

Apart from these two promising drivers, Force India also have the option of hiring Nick Heidfeld, who apart from being a very solid car developer, has also raced with some esteemed names as teammates and have managed to beat them.

The list includes Kimi Räikkönen, Felipe Massa and Robert Kubica. Given the exit of technical staff from the team, Heidfeld will be a very safe bet for the team.

Apart from these drivers, there is always Karun Chandhok and with an Indian GP coming next year, it would be an amazing PR exercise for the team to have an Indian driver.

But then Vijay Mallya would not want the driver to overshadow the team, but Karun did do a decent job with HRT and he would not be any worse than its current set of drivers.

If Vijay Mallya is very serious about Force India, he should race di Resta, the Hulk or Heidfeld rather go back to Sutil or Luizzi.

It would be exciting to see di Resta and Hulk go against the other drivers, as both these guys would be driving for places in the top teams for the future.


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