Force India wait for second driver
Updated: Saturday, 02 Feb 2013 10:10
Force India unveiled their new car for the 2013 Formula One season yesterday but the identity of their second driver remains safely under wraps for the time being
Scotland's Paul di Resta cut a lonely figure as the team assembled at Silverstone to give the world's media their first glimpse of the VJM06, which they hope can build on last season's seventh place in the constructors' championship.
Force India have had a vacancy in their ranks for several months after Nico Hulkenberg left to join Sauber at the end of last season.
Yet with just weeks to go before the first race in Melbourne on 17 March, the identity of the German's replacement remains shrouded in mystery.
Reserve driver Jules Bianchi, who took up his role at the start of last season, is viewed by many as the favourite to land the seat, but the team are unwilling to rush into a decision on his suitability given his limited experience.
Bruno Senna and Vitaly Petrov - both drivers with race experience in F1 - are also in the frame, as is Adrian Sutil, who drove for the team between 2008 and 2011 and in their previous guise as Spyker in 2007.
Force India's deputy team principal Robert Fearnley was adamant that yesterday's launch was not the time to unveil their second driver, saying: "We do not want to confuse the two stories."
Speaking to reporters, he added that the planned regulation changes coming into effect in 2014 are also being taken into account in the driver selection process.
"In 2014 we are into a completely different era and we need to have drivers that we feel are going to be capable of developing the car through," Fearnley said.
"We need performance but we also need the development ability. It's about bringing the right person in to do all of that and getting the long-term stability."
Team principal Dr Vijay Mallya insisted the driver search had been thorough and expressed his confidence that they will have a strong pairing come the opening round in Australia.
"We had a shortlist and have considered every driver who is available," Mallya said.
"We are very close to making our decision and I can assure you that we will arrive in Australia with one of the most exciting pairings on the grid."