Farce-India Gate?


No passing through my dirty air please
During the winter break we come across all sort of wild stories and rumours in F1 because basically the media still need something to write about whilst there are no races going on. However this winter there has been a story unfolding which has caught my imagination and has been mightily unclear as to what is going on. I’m talking of course about what we are not hearing out of the Force India camp. We are constantly getting reassurances from them that nothing is going on at all and maybe thats all we’ll ever hear. There have been a few oddities going on though.

I’m going to start with the recent Jamie Alguersauri tittle tattle, although I will state that working in an intelligence job I would probably grade Mr Alguersauri as an only ‘sometimes reliable’ source. The story goes that Jamie has blasted out to the media just last week is that he was assured a drive with a team that ‘usually scores’ for 2013 and he had been assured of this about half way through the 2012 season. We can back this up as we’ve had reports relayed from CTA members who have been tipped off by insiders saying that Alguersauri would def be on the 2013 grid since round about the British Grand Prix (Thank you racecub). Jamie wouldn’t name the team but if we assume we can rule out the top 5, Torro Rosso, Caterham and Marussia that only leaves us with Force India, Sauber and Williams. Williams we know from more CTA members working on the Finnish language section of the Williams website (Thank you ExtremeNinja) have been considering Bottas for a long long time so I think we can rule them out too. Sauber are a possibility but even before they landed Hulkenberg they had Kobi and Perez on their books with Gutteriez a cert to come in if one went so promising Alguersauri a drive would be odd. On top of that I think we can dismiss Sauber as Algursauri states he has turned down offers in other championships including the DTM drive that went to Timo Glock. Sauber had announced their driver line up before the 2012 season had finished which would have left Jamie open to offers. That only leaves Force India but that in itself is strange.

If we assume Alguersauri was made this offer around the British Grand Prix then Force India already had Di Resta, Hulkenberg and Bianchi on their books. Recently they suggested the plan was to keep Di Resta and Hulkenberg for 2013 whilst Bianchi had another year of testing so why would they be promising Alguersauri a drive? On top of that around Aug last year Bianchi’s personnel sponsor upped its sponsorship to Force India and noises started to come out of the team that Bianchi was being bumped up anyways. It all seems rather odd.

Of course thats not the only odd thing on the driver front. As I write this Force India have still not named their second driver infact at the first test they were testing Rossieter and Bianchi and now we hear they have plans to use Sutil at Barcelona. Whilst it has been suggested that they are trying out the drivers I fail to understand what they would gain from a test session with 2 drivers they know inside out. This is all most unusual as they said in the press that their driver line-up would be announced in time for their xmas party. We’re now in mid-Feb so I don’t know what calendar they work off.

The other puzzle with Force India was the whole Di Resta thing. He was contracted to Force India, they kept saying he was in their plans but they didn’t put him on the entry list for the 2013 season and didn’t confirm him there until just a few weeks ago. Why the delay with a driver they know they are keeping? Were they just lazy or was something going on. We also have secondhand reports from CTA members (Thank you Slyboogy) that Di Resta posted on Twitter welcoming Bruno Senna to the team before deleting it. If that is true then certainly something went on there. The most recent rumours of course are Karthikeyen which just throws us all into confusion even more.

As well as the drivers situation we have the VJ situation hanging over Force India. VJ’s company Kingfisher Airlines seem to be going more and more down the toilet to the point that just last week their planes were being repossessed. At the same time as this is all going on VJ is announcing he’s thrown an extra 40m into the Force India budget and reassuring everyone the two companies are not connected. Meanwhile if you look into the other partner in the business Sahra you’d find many many accounts of suggested dodgy dealing and poor ethics. Do the team have any money or don’t they? One minute they are announcing a new sponsorship deal with dutch watchmakers and the next they are in discussions with Tata for funding and considering bringing in Karthikeyen to get it.

None of us are insiders at Force India and I doubt we’ll ever hear the full story but I refuse to believe this situation with the drivers and the constant contradiction of themselves isn’t because of something going off behind the scenes. Whether it be funding or just a power struggle I don’t know. I could speculate that they left their drivers slots open for so long because they were touting for sponsors and they thought being available to slot in a sponsors preferred driver into their line up would make them more attractive to back. The real shame with all of this is that Force India were leading the last GP and had looked to have come on after a poor start in 2012. Bianchi’s quick time in testing just the other week also shows they obviously have kept that going for 2013 as well. You get the feeling that a decent driver, who’d had a winter breaking in to the team and getting used to the car could have really hit the ground running for them. This late driver selection is the stuff of HRT.

So what do you think? Are we all reading too much into the Force India thing and they are absolutely fine or are you not expecting them to last the season? Any theories and thoughts are very welcome because I’m baffled by the whole thing.
It's the most intriguing story of the moment, one that will run through the initial races I reckon. The lack of transparency in FI's plans adds to the concern.
and the driver soap opera continues a they announce Sutil and Bianchi will test in Barcelona.

Has Di Resta been in the car yet? I can't remember.
This whole shambles indicates to me that they have major internal problems, possibly partly (at least) financial. Whatever the reason, it seems to me that they are hampering their early-season (at least) performance, because, at this point in time, what a team needs is input from their regular drivers about any problems in the car that need to be corrected before the season starts. They are getting none of that, so I fully expect them to struggle in the early races. Those struggles will do nothing to help attract sponsors.

A shame, really, as they have given indications that they have the ability to run in the mid-to-upper-mid field.
For the moment I'm happy just to look at what they're doing on the track and they had a very strong start to testing in Jerez. Considering what we have seen from the likes of HRT in recent years I think Force India are a long way off being a farce.
It wasn't so long ago that Force Inida were the slowest team on the grid, they're certainly not a farce.

Obviously there are some problems, to what extent who knows. I'm just glad it's Bianchi and Sutil who are vying for the seat, only a week ago Karthikeyan was a major candidate. Personally I'd go with Sutil, he's a known quantity and will deliver points, Bianchi on the other hand looks decent, but two failed attempts at the GP2 championship and one at the FR 3.5 doesn't look great.
The Sutil thing is another puzzlement. I know you can clearly see I've pinned my colours on the Bianchi mast (I think he repaired a lot of the damage done in GP2 with a good year in the world series last year) but lets look at this logically.

If Force India are looking for investment why on earth would they associate themselves with an F1 driver who is still under an 18 month suspended prison sentence? Its hardly a sponsor winner is it? Add to the fact that despite his insistance its not a problem getting Sutil a work permit for some of the countries (especially at the begining of the season when he's still under sentence) is going to be difficult at best and probably involve a lot more paperwork. I still don't think China will ever let him back in.

But then the other side of it is that Force India keep talking about pushing forward for the future etc etc and if thats the case and everything is ship shaped and dandy then why are they reverting back to their safety net driver? They know what Sutil can do and I doubt a year out will have made him sharper. Yes he's a safe pair of hands but he's not likely to push them to the next level which is why they dropped him for Hulkenberg in the first place.
As a fan of Force India it is a little upsetting to see this sort of thing going on :(.

However, I am puzzled as to why their didn't fight harder to keep Hulkenberg at the team. I thought him and di Resta formed a decent partnership and both got equal opportunities. So to me it smells of something not right with the team at all.
Are Force India still getting Mclaren support ?

The situation is farcical in leaving their driver late ?

My memory in terms of history of the team drivers

2008 after buying out Spyker
Contracted to run Sutil and required a shoot out between R Schumacher, Fisichella and Sato. Fisichella impressed and got the driver

2009 Sutil and Fisichella with Liuzzi as 3rd driver although DI Resta had a test

Fisi leaves for Ferrari after scoring teams only pole and podium , Liuzzi drafted in

2010 Sutil and Liuzzi with DI Resta as 3rd driver

pretty much straight from the off Liuzzi is under pressure with calls for Di Resta to replace him supposedbly by BBC bandwagon

2011 Drivers were delayed until the last minute complicated by Kubica's vacant seat at Renault with both Liuzzi and Sutil considered

Di Resta and Sutil are the drivers after the team managed to buy out Liuzzi's contract

2012 Di Resta and Hulkenberg forced upon by Sutil's sentence

2013 ???

It does seem Force India are known to delay selecting their drivers previously
With Algarsuari's position

I thought he was talking to both Sauber and Force India.

Sauber were I think more secure given the Telmex sponsors and Ferrari support

however with Force India...it does seem one driver must bring sponsors

it will be interesting to see when the team struggles how they cope with it being at the back of the grid

They are taking far too long to announce the 2nd driver

I reckon if Sutil can show some speed in testing he will get it

unless Ferrari pressure about Bianchi which is really for 2014 then
FI team principal Bob Fernly says Force India are not in any hurry to announce their second driver and there is no looming deadline (ermmm a month until the season starts Bob?). Apparently the board members will 'analyse' the data from the test session over the weekend. It does make it sound as if it'll be Sutil or Bianchi. I do wonder if they'll 'analyse' the money they could get from having Karthkeyen in the seat too.

Just a reminder the team had said they would be announcing their second driver in Barcelona so this is another deadline missed. They all seem very calm and like nothing is wrong but it all seems very strange to me.
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