Force India's Happy Problem

RasputinLives

Leave me alone I'm on Smoko
Contributor
As the bumbling BBC F1 broadcast team stumbled their way down the pit lane on the BBC's F1 Forum I was suprised to see them pass a very happy looking Nico Hulkenberg. I was mainly suprised because it was only on Friday I'd read an angry sounding interview with him about how if he wasn't in F1 next year he was going elsewhere. Usually I get annoyed at the F1 forum for not interviewing the right people and asking the right questions but David Coulthard actually spotted the smiling Nico and went to talk to him. Nico came across quite well saying how well the team had done and complimenting Adrian Sutil on his 6th place and ended the interview by cheekerly saying he's have probably got 5th - which made me like him more actually. Straight after they interviewed Adrian Sutil who had just finished a Grand Prix scoring one of his best results of the season and clawing himself up to 9th in the drivers championship table. He did not look happy. This told a story for me more than any questions the team asked either driver.

Whilst Force India's season has been good lets remind ourselves that actually this is a team recovering back to where they should be after a slump that started back in 2004. Force India were formly Jordan he arrived on the F1 scene in 1991 and quite quickly worked their way up to position on 5th best team and the team most likely to frustrate the big boys. Although Jordan became Spyker, who became Midland who then became Force India you have to remember that the factory never moved and whilst the managment structure changed the majority of your engineers and factory workers can remember when it used to be Eddie Jordan deciding their Xmas bonus. In Eddie Jordan's day he got the team up near the front by wheeler dealing for technology from the bigger teams, giving future front runners their first shot in F1(Schumacher x2, Barrichello, Irvine, Fisichella) and letting talented drivers rebuild themselves after a fall from grace (Hill, Fretzen, Brundle). This got him the results he needed to stay in the game and very wisely VJ has kept the same formula by forging links with Mclaren and Mercedes and seemingly always having a young driver in the wings. This can be a problem though. Just as in 2010 we knew that Liuzzi's seat in the team was doomed because Paul Di Resta was sitting on his shoulder we knew at the begining of this year that Adrian Sutil was on his way out because Nico Hulkenberg was there. Now whilst Liuzzi obliged and had an average season so no one complained as he was shown the door Mr Sutil decided to give Force India a headache by having an awesome season leaving Force India with a conundrum.

Sutil actually scored 5 points less than last year and didn't repeat his two 5th places of last season either. This season is still seen as him doing better though as the argument is that the top teams were more consistant this year and their were less points avaliable. I could counter that argument by saying their has been more oppotunity for Sutil to beat the likes of Rosberg, Massa, Webber and even Hamilton this year due to their much but lets just go with the fact that Sutil had a good season and certainly ranks as 'best of the rest' after the drivers for the big 4. So why does it look like he'll be out on his ear? Politics. Nico Hulkenberg is Germany's next great hope. He's wiped the floor with most of the opposition in all his junior formula and he was supposed to triumphly make a Lewis Hamilton type entry into F1. Unfourtunatly the team he chose to make that entrance with was Williams and it kinda went a bit flat. He did show us what he had to offer with his pole in Brazil but suddenly found himself without a drive when Williams desperete for cash signed a deal with the Venulzualan government. This did not please the massive amount of sponsors that were backing him including manager Willi Weber who have help fund his career. Weber is the same gentlemen that brought us a certain Michael Schumacher and had already stated as long ago as 2009(before Nico had been in F1) that Hulkenberg will sign for Ferrari in 2012! With all this backing it wasn't long before similar to Paul Di Resta we found the Hulk sitting in a Force India tester seat trying to tempt VJ with a big pot of gold - although this time the pot really was bigger!

So I hear you say if Sutil has been so good and Hulkenberg is such a big talent why not have them as a pairing? Sounds good right. Well we have the small matter of a chap called Paul Di Resta. Paul Di Resta is another Scot with an Italian sounding name financially backed by his famous cousin Mr Dario Franchittii and managed by none other than Anthony Hamilton. The PR machince for Di Resta kicked into life before the 2010 season had even started. Suddenly DTM was a quality series we'd all heard of with proper quality drivers not just F1 rejects and old drivers taking pay cheques - and Paul was winning it! Di Resta had beaten Vettel when they were team-mates and we heard about it every weekend. Poor old Liuzzi didn't stand a chance about that and Paul obviously got the seat for 2011. Now how has he done? Well in the UK there has been a lot of jumping up and down about him as having a great rookie season but there could be national bias there - I think in reality he's had a pretty steady rookie season where he's shown signs he could be a class act. He has finished 8 times in the points this season and finished 13th in the constructors but lets remember he was clearly beaten by Sutil 11- 8 race wise and only score 5 more points that Liuzzi did the previous year. In fact you could argue that Liuzzi had 6 mechanical failures to contend with to Di Resta's 1 and therefore was at a disadvantage.

I am being picky and there is no doubt that Di Resta has shown flashes of greatness or at least potential for greatness this season, his qualifying especially, but has he really shown enough to get preference over the teams bread winner? Probably not. But Di Resta is backed by Mercedes and that link is very important for Force India - without the might of the Merc engines the team certainly wouldn't be 6th in the constructors. If you also take into account that VJ's airline is about to go bust the financial support for the team is really needed as well and certainly the exciting young new line-up of Hulkenberg and Di Resta has money spinner written all over it.

So what do I think Force India's decision will be? same as everyone else Di Resta/Hulkenberg. Is that the right choice for the team? in this strange world of F1 I think it is as I think it will keep them where they are. Is the choice fair on Adrian Sutil? Absolutely not and it makes me sad that business decisions decide driver choice rather than pure talent but where would you be without playing the game? Sutil's only crime is not having such a high profile manager or exciting history in lower formula. Poor old Adrian.

Now which of the Force India drivers will lead the way next year? Well I think thats a whole other article.
 

Galahad

Not a Moderator
Valued Member
Well, Weber isn't Hulkenberg's manager any more, they parted company after last season. So let's not go overboard on the German politics angle.

Is Adrian going to get any better? Probably not. Are Paul and Nico? I'd say it's highly likely, on balance. So I think Vijay and Sahara are doing the right thing.

It may not be fair on Adrian, but then is it fair on any number of young drivers that he's been blocking up a seat all these years due to his Medion and Capri-Sun cash? His junior career was pretty poor, though he's done moderately well since getting into F1.
 

Il_leone

Champion Elect
lets be honest Sutil last year made noises that he was looking to move last year to Renault if he did not an incentive to stay and the deal fell through and he was fighting for his seat at the end

Also what does Sutil want to do with his F1 career ? be the F1 world champion and win races right so how close have Force India come to winning races . twice in 2009 when they had a superb car for Spa and Monza but have never reached the heights since

Sutil has spent 5 years now including 1 year at Midland in the same time ...which is longer than Heidfeld did at Sauber.... now when a team has not won a race and does not look like it will next year ..is it not time to move on

We keep hearing he has the ability to win races and world champion material but its very hard to tell when he had a struggle early in the season... I will not take his quali into account because after Silverstone once Force India made it into Q3 they just saved the tyres for the races when at the time Di Resta was leading him

The only person who 's managed to stay at a team for so long and bear fruits is Button but circumstances were different and it does help when you are lead by Ross BRawn!

Should Sutil get the boot ? NO but he has to be honest with himself whats one more year at Force India going to do for him and losing to Di Resta who should improve will not help his cause - read Heidfeld / Frentzen 2003 Sauber

Okay the Williams is not in a great position but here is his chance being a team leader at Williams and show his abilities

Should Sutil have put his name to Renault last year ... maybe yes but hindsight is wonderful thing
 

Il_leone

Champion Elect
by the same token did Hulkenberg deserved to be dropped last year ...well NO but he must be glad in some way given that Williams have slid further down the grid

Did Liuzzi deserved to be dropped for Di Resta NO either - this guy seems to be the most unluckiest person in the paddock because he was being raved about being a future world champion in a Ferrari back in 2004 and things have not happened...he seems to get screwed which ever team he drives for in all honesty.. Red Bull, Toro Rosso, Force India and HRT.

DI Resta has got a big PR machine behind him with Mercedes and Anthony Hamilton and .... one of a few teammates who beat Vettel in the same team so Paul has to live up to that reputation which he has not disappointed with his application apart from a few rash moves early in the season costing some good points like MOnaco, and Canada whilst a bungled pit stop ruined his race at Silverstone
 

HammydiRestarules

Di Resta fan :).
Contributor
This is where the 3 car rule would have worked perfectly for a team like Force India. The three drivers they've got on their books are very good.
Adrian's really pulled his socks up this season and even though his young teammate sometimes put him in the shade. Sutil is a driver that will get on with the job in hand.
Paul has the consistance and the speed to score points week in week out. He's proved in his first season in F1 that he'll be a contender for a seat in one of the big four in the future.
Nico, well he's just lightening quick and may prove he's constant with this team.
Damn it all three deserve a drive, can't we just bring in a three car rule now?
 

Slyboogy

World Champion
Contributor
Was it fair that Hulkenberg got ousted for Maldonado when he did what was required of a rookie? No, what goes around comes around they say, in this case, it has. With Sutil flirting a lot with other teams last year, it must have sent out a wrong signal to Force India.

This situation reminds me of Ferrari 2009, 3 great drivers, one has to make way cruel whoever it was.

I understand you think di Resta is overly-hyped by the British media, I think the same. But I wouldn't call his rookie season 'steady' nor 'stellar'. He's completed the most laps in a season, now that's a great statistic, especially for a rookie. He's not been in many incidents either, just Monaco and Canada come to mind. He put the marker down on his team-mate earlier on, and he must have been quite annoyed when he had to let Sutil through via team orders in Australia, where Sutil went to finish 10th (before the Sauber's got penalised). Comparing him to Liuzzi last season, for Liuzzi it was harsh, he seemed to have a lot of problems, and was constantly talked bad of in 2010, but then again, he wasn't a rookie like di Resta.

I am not quite getting your vibe on Hulkenberg and the 'German politics' stuff. Hulkenberg doesn't have many sponsors either, if someone has sponsors out of the 3, it's Sutil with Medion (Lenovo) and Capri Sun. I think it's good that Force India are going to give him a chance, I was quite annoyed the way Williams handled his situation, first saying he was going to get dropped, then saying he was going to stay, then finally dropping him.

But it will be a shame if Sutil gets dropped and doesn't have a chance for a good race seat next year, unlike Hulkenberg who only had Virgin and HRT as an option, Sutil has Williams a team that is radically changing for next season, it could give him a fresh start and make him even better, plus he has sponsors which which will help him and Williams.

I think it's time for Force India and Sutil to part ways, think Force India have put a lot of faith in him, but not sure the same could be said about Sutil as last year he was looking to move.

I am almost certain Sutil will go to Williams next season, hence why I am not that annoyed at him making way for Hulkenberg.
 

Il_leone

Champion Elect
He only sent out the wrong signal because everyone (at least at the BBC) was going ' Oh Paul is so brilliant,, and Nico is is so impressive so where will he go, he can't stay at Force India...?'
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But it was Sutil who was making noises that I've got an offer from Renault and a very good one can you match it ? he tried to play the game and nearly got his fingers burnt because Renault went with Heidfeld as the replacement

His manager was no doubt saying he was talking to Williams, Mercedes and Renault blah blah blah and had some strong races last year like Malaysia and Spa.
 

RasputinLives

Leave me alone I'm on Smoko
Contributor
This one's sparked a lively debate. I think the point I was making with the Hulkenberg/Sutil situation is that...unless I get proven very wrong....the decision to replace Sutil with Hulkenberg was made before a wheel had even turned this season - just the same as the decision to replace Liuzzi with Di Resta had been made before a wheel was turned in 2010. It really didn't matter how well Sutil did this year.

Now as I say in the article I understand the decision being made but if you look at Sutil in terms of results he's been getting better and better every year and the only team-mate he's had who's been able to hold a candle to him was Fisichella. As for him 'blocking' the seat and having a poor background in other formula you're missing my point of why I feel for him. Adrian Sutil was given a chance (by hook or by crook) and he took it - can you tell me what more he could have done during his stint at the team? because I don't think there is much more. Now I understand why he's being ousted because F1 is a business and a team like Force India need to combine results with PR and sponsors in order for them to stay where they are. The point I was making is that its sad that F1 and the drivers getting the seats is not just based on results and drives.

As for his manager making noises about him moving to other teams etc etc - isn't the just contract negociation that every driver does? you make ambition sound like a bad thing and if you're trying to suggest it showed a lack of loyalty then thats really aimed at the wrong driver since he arrived with them when they were rock bottom of the pack and has stuck with them through the rise.

As I said I understand the reason and it may turn out that the Hulkenberg/Di Resta partnership turns out to absolutely awesome. Just saying not much more Adrian could have done in his time with Force India and he still doesn't look like keeping his drive.

Still lets hope he helps with the Williams revial though eh?
 

Il_leone

Champion Elect
there was more than a chance Sutil was going to be ousted before the wheel turned because it always looks embarrassing when everyone thought you were going to join another team and only for last minute change of mind - see Nick Heidfeld to Mclaren

Also Sutil has to be honest with himself - other than beating Di Resta he has nothing much else to gain from Force India unless they suddenly became front runners which is not the case/ He's been with the team for 5 years but he was denied podiums by a sleeping KImi Raikkonen at certain races

Could Sutil have done more ? Not really unless each race was rain which throws things up

Him making noises about negotiations with other teams yes every driver does that but he should realise it was a potentially dangerous game if it did not come off and when Renault decided on Heidfeld then it could have forced him out of F1

Well at Williams Sutil has his chance to show what he is made off. Eddie Jordan keeps saying he's a potential race winner and world champion in the right car so lets see what he can do in a team where he can build with

So far VJ has been justified in his decisions it has to be said where Force India have got to. He ignored national interests by not putting Chandhok or Karthaykeiyin in the car despite pressures from sponsors and India media.

The next step for him now is to jump closer to the front maybe with the team
 

RasputinLives

Leave me alone I'm on Smoko
Contributor
I do think you're revising history a little bit there. Sutil's contract was agreed if not signed for a few weeks after back in November of 2010

http://en.espnf1.com/f1/motorsport/story/35043.html

so this 'embarrasment' that he was still there thing didn't really exist. Yes he was linked to the Renault drive after Kubica crashed but then so was every man and his god. Kovi is still being linked to the second Renault seat now it doesn't mean Caterham will be embarrased when he's still there come next year.

I think you have to note the difference between what is being said during negociation by a manager and the press and what is actually being said by the driver.

You obviously decided that Adrian brought this on himself and thats a fair enough opinion but you've decided to ignore the pressure that would have been coming from shareholder and 'Mercedes' (they're engine supplier) from the young high profile Nick Hulkenberg to be in the car.

Like many a driver before him Adrian will probably lose his seat not because of his skill but because he is not young, popular, good looking or high profile enough.
 

Il_leone

Champion Elect
I do think you're revising history a little bit there. Sutil's contract was agreed if not signed for a few weeks after back in November of 2010

http://en.espnf1.com/f1/motorsport/story/35043.html

so this 'embarrasment' that he was still there thing didn't really exist. Yes he was linked to the Renault drive after Kubica crashed but then so was every man and his god. Kovi is still being linked to the second Renault seat now it doesn't mean Caterham will be embarrased when he's still there come next year.

I think you have to note the difference between what is being said during negociation by a manager and the press and what is actually being said by the driver.

You obviously decided that Adrian brought this on himself and thats a fair enough opinion but you've decided to ignore the pressure that would have been coming from shareholder and 'Mercedes' (they're engine supplier) from the young high profile Nick Hulkenberg to be in the car.

Like many a driver before him Adrian will probably lose his seat not because of his skill but because he is not young, popular, good looking or high profile enough.
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I do feel so because it was basically the best of what was left for Adrian

Hulkenberg has no actual ties with Mercedes unlike DI Resta who was been nurtured into F1. Hulkenberg got himself a good manager in Willi Weber at the time who off course was instrumental in M Schumacher's career from Mercedes SPortscar to F1

Clearly Willi has been making noises with his contacts at Mercedes that if you can;t get Seb then they should consider the Incredible Hulkenberg

Adrian probably should have put his pen to paper on the Renault offer but then hindsight is a wonderful thing. Like I've said other than beating DI Resta he had nothing else to gain from being another year at FOrce India - I don;t see them becoming a Brawn suddenly and be miles quicker than everyone from the off
 

Galahad

Not a Moderator
Valued Member
I just don't think he's world champion material. di Resta and Hulkenberg may be, or they may not - we don't know. With Adrian I'm afraid we do.

Could he have done more? I'm sure he did all he could - though his last three races were strong compared to the previous ones. He just isn't good enough, for me. Beating Fisichella would certainly have changed impressions of him, I'm sure.

I absolutely think this decision was made on talent grounds. I also think that Nico's performances in testing and practice will have influenced the choice, rather than it being a fait accompli as some are suggesting. Presumably there's no evidence for that?
 
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