Force India to persevere with new wheelnut system

Force India have said that they will persevere with their new wheelnut system despite the issue causing the team a double retirement at the Malaysian Grand Prix.

The Silverstone based team were hoping to repeat the double points scoring finish achieved at the Australian Grand Prix just a week before. However both Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta were forced to retire after the Force India pit crew experienced problems with wheelnuts during their pitstops.

“Both cars had the same problem with the wheel nuts and it cost us a lot of time in the pits,” Sutil explained. “We aren’t sure exactly what happened yet so the team stopped the cars to make sure we understand the issue.”

The new captive wheelnut system was in use during the Australian Grand Prix however the temperatures in Malaysia were much higher and it is believed that this is a factor in the problem.

The Force India team now have three weeks to sort the wheelnut issue out before the next race in China.

“We won’t go back to the old part,” deputy team principal Bob Fernley confirmed to Autosport. “We can’t go backwards.

“You need to cure the problem and carry on with your development. Today, everyone’s pitstops are well under four seconds. But it you go back to the traditional route you are plus four.”

Force India signs Sutil, aims to keep Bianchi

Force India on Thursday completed the 2013 grid by announcing it has signed Adrian Sutil.

The Silverstone based team had weighed up reuniting with German Sutil, its long-time German driver, or promote the Ferrari-linked 2012 reserve Jules Bianchi.

“It was a close call, but ultimately we felt that Adrian’s experience and historic links to the team gave him the edge,” said team boss Vijay Mallya.

Sutil, 30, drove for the team between 2007 and 2011, sitting out last season in the wake of the Eric Lux assault affair.

Mallya added: “As for Jules Bianchi, he has impressed us enormously with his speed and work ethic, and I’m hopeful we can continue working with him this year to help him develop into a future grand prix driver.”

Source:GMM

Sutil hopes Mercedes helps for Force India seat

Fernando Alonso was Thursday’s fastest in Barcelona, but he was giving little away to the media.

Livio Oricchio, the correspondent for Brazilian newspaper O Estado de S.Paulo, said the fact Ferrari is shielding the drivers from the press this winter is “angering” those in the media centre. At any rate, the so-billed ‘shootout’ between Adrian Sutil and Jules Bianchi for the last seat on the 2013 grid is attracting more attention anyway.

Frenchman Bianchi is scheduled to drive the new Force India on Friday, but the weather forecast is for rain all day. After a season on the bench, German Sutil impressed the Silverstone based team on Thursday with a time quicker than his potential 2013 teammate, Paul di Resta.

“It’s obvious that I’m still quick and that’s very important,” he told reporters. “Hopefully I’ll get the drive … what can I say?”

The 30-year-old, however, acknowledged that it’s not a straight fight, as were Williams’ ‘shootouts’ between Jenson Button and Bruno Junquiera in 2000, or Nick Heidfeld and Antonio Pizzonia in 2005.

“There’s a little bit of business behind it,” said Sutil, alluding to his links with Mercedes and Bianchi’s to Ferrari, regarding Force India’s eventual choice of V6 engine supplier.

He admitted to F1’s official website: “My relationship with Mercedes has always been good and hopefully they are heavily interested in having me in the car this season.”

Deputy team boss Bob Fernley said on Thursday that the team’s shareholders will make their decision probably at the weekend.

Sutil smiled: “They’ve been saying for a month that it happens in the next week. Let’s see who is on the grid in Melbourne,” he told Auto Motor und Sport.

Source:GMM

Force India to muse driver decision this weekend

With just three weeks until the circus congregates in Australia for the 2013 opener, Force India is still yet to name Paul di Resta’s teammate.

To that end, Adrian Sutil – the team’s long-time German driver who sat out 2012 after his assault conviction – is testing the new VJM06 in Barcelona on Thursday. But also hot in the running is Jules Bianchi, the rookie Frenchman who was reserve driver last season and is strongly supported by Ferrari, and handled by Felipe Massa’s manager Nicolas Todt.

Indeed, some see Sutil versus Bianchi as less about a head-to-head talent ‘shootout’, and more a question of which one is better backed by a supplier of expensive turbo V6s. Ferrari looks set to lose its engine customer Toro Rosso to Renault in 2014, and so Force India – currently powered by Mercedes – would be a good replacement for the Maranello marque.

“First of all (with engine customers) we can test more engines and having no tests during the season we can collect a much wider database,” said engine boss Luca Marmorini. “In this sense it’s very good having customer teams.”

Ferrari driver ‘academy’ star Bianchi will drive the 2013 Force India on Friday, arming the Silverstone based team’s bosses with the information for a decision.

Asked on Thursday if that news will come next week, deputy team boss Bob Fernley said: “It would be good.

“We’ll try and get all the information we’ve been collecting to the shareholders this weekend and then it’s their decision,” he told British Sky television.

Fernley said Force India will treat Sutil and Bianchi fairly in Barcelona, and confirmed that “obviously one of them” will be di Resta’s teammate in 2013.

Source:GMM

Sutil ‘not nervous’ ahead of crucial F1 test

Adrian Sutil insists he is “not nervous” ahead of his test with Force India on Thursday.

Billed by the media as a ‘shootout’ for the last race seat in 2013, German Sutil will drive the VJM06 at Barcelona a day before the other hot contender, Jules Bianchi, tests on Friday.

“I’m pleased to finally be back on a Formula One track,” Sutil, who bowed out of F1 after his assault conviction of 2011, is quoted by the DPA news agency. “It’s quite a while ago since Brazil 2011. The anticipation is there, but I’m not nervous or anything.

“I don’t think I have to prove something to the team,” said Sutil, who spent his entire F1 career with the Silverstone based outfit. I don’t know if this is really a fight for the (race) cockpit, so that’s why I’m not worried.”

He’s not worried, but 30-year-old Sutil does know that Thursday is an important moment.

“I think it’s my last chance to really have a future in formula one,” he acknowledged. “I think that with another year of waiting, the train will have departed.

“Then I would have to think about something else. But I’m also experienced enough that I can only do what I always do, which is the best I can.”

Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport claims that Sutil actually reached agreement about 2013 with Force India back in December, before the negotiations between the Ferrari-linked Jules Bianchi became serious.

Sutil’s manager Manfred Zimmermann said: “We do not blame the team. They have always treated us fairly.”

Source:GMM

Senna: Force India has ‘other priorities’ than drivers

Bruno Senna has revealed he was a contender to fill the second race cockpit at Force India this year.

“It’s hard to understand what happened,” said the former Williams driver, who has instead switched to Le Mans sports cars, where this week he tested his Aston Martin for the first time in Portugal. “They (Force India) apparently have other priorities at the moment,” he told Brazilian Jovem Pan radio. “It seems the second driver has a second level of importance.”

This week at Barcelona, Adrian Sutil and Jules Bianchi will undergo a ‘shootout’ for the final race seat on the 2013 grid. But some see the contest as more a battle of which driver is better linked to an engine manufacturer, with Force India weighing up either Mercedes or Ferrari power for the new, more expensive turbo V6 era.

Senna explained: “We negotiated with them (Force India), but at a certain point, they disappeared and it seems that it was not just us that this happened to.”

Meanwhile, Ferrari engine boss Luca Marmorini on Wednesday confirmed that it is possible Toro Rosso – who are weighing up a switch to Renault – could cease its relationship with the famous Italian marque at the end of 2013.

“A customer team is very important for an engine supplier,” he is quoted by Speed Week, “but I do not know if we will supply Toro Rosso next year.”

Source:GMM

Sutil & Bianchi shape up for Barcelona Force India ‘shootout’

Barcelona will this week host a head-to-head ‘shootout’ for the final race seat on the 2013 grid.

Just like Williams weighed up Jenson Button versus Bruno Junqueira in 2000, and Nick Heidfeld versus Antonio Pizzonia in 2005, this time it will be Adrian Sutil and Jules Bianchi fighting for a single place at Force India.

In 2013, however, the situation is a little different, given that driver sponsorship and their links to manufacturers will also play a role in the ultimate identity of Paul di Resta’s teammate. The well-connected French commentator Jean-Louis Moncet said he is “worried” about Bianchi ahead of the shootout, because the Ferrari-linked 23-year-old has “no budget”.

In Auto Plus, Moncet quoted a source as saying: “Jules is certain to drive with Force India in 2014. But for 2013, with more than an eye on budgets, Sutil or (Narain) Karthikeyan have a better chance, unless Ferrari contributes financially for Jules.”

Actually, Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport claims Bianchi does actually have a budget – EUR 4 million – and a higher one than that offered by Sutil’s backers. He also has the Ferrari link, but German correspondent Michael Schmidt claims another factor in play could be Sutil’s link with Mercedes; the German manufacturer that currently supplies Force India’s engines.

In short, the talks about Force India’s turbo V6 supplier for 2014 and beyond will be key.

Schmidt claims Mercedes is charging about EUR 21 million for its V6, while Ferrari is asking only 17 million. But a rumour in the Barcelona paddock on Tuesday is that Mercedes could be throwing in a gearbox deal as well, which could play in German Sutil’s favour.

Source:GMM

Sutil ‘happy and grateful’ for Force India chance

Adrian Sutil is “very, very happy” Force India is giving him a chance to shine by his former team Force India at Barcelona this week.

“He’s very, very happy this is taking place,” the German’s manager Manfred Zimmermann is quoted by DPA news agency.

Sutil, now 30, spent his entire five-year F1 career with the Silverstone based team until 2011, when he lost his seat at the end of the season in the wake of the Eric Lux assault affair. He is now a contender to return to the grid this year, with Force India confirming he will test alongside rival Jules Bianchi as the second pre-season test takes place this week.

The team said Sutil will drive on day three (Thursday) in Barcelona, before handing over to the Ferrari-linked Frenchman Bianchi.

“No, it’s not a shoot-out,” a Force India spokesman told Reuters.

Sutil told Bild newspaper: “I am happy and grateful that Force India is giving me this chance.”

Spain’s Marca sports newspaper said Sutil’s backers are offering the team EUR 8 million in sponsorship.

Source:GMM

Fernley: Mallya’s troubles don’t affect Force India

Boss and co-owner Vijay Mallya’s financial problems do not affect Force India, deputy team principal Bob Fernley insists.

This week, it emerged that lenders to Mallya’s failing airline Kingfisher are set to sell the billionaire’s collateral assets as they recall the loans.

And the very latest reports are that Force India’s title sponsor Subrata Roy, of the Indian giant Sahara, has had 100 of his and the conglomerate’s bank accounts frozen by the Securities and Exchange Board of India over failing to repay investors.

Referring on Thursday to team supremo Mallya’s troubles, Force India’s Bob Fernley said: “There is a disconnect between what happens in Vijay’s business and what Vijay is doing on the F1 team.

“Whether Kingfisher or United Spirits is doing well or not doesn’t affect the team, and it’s very difficult for us to get that message across, although we have been trying for several years,” he is quoted by the Guardian newspaper.

Source:GMM

Sutil could test Force India in Barcelona

Adrian Sutil has re-emerged as a front runner for the last spot on the 2013 grid, with news he had a custom seat fitted at Force India’s Silverstone factory this week.

It was thought the Ferrari-linked Jules Bianchi, who tested the team’s new VM06 at Jerez recently, was now the favourite, but Sutil’s manager Manfred Zimmermann insisted this week he is “convinced” the German’s push to return to F1 will work out.

Media reports now say former Force India racer Sutil, 30, had a seat fitting for the VJM06 this week.

A team spokesman confirmed the reports, adding: “At this stage the test driving schedule for the Barcelona test is not finalised but there is a possibility Adrian could be involved.

“The driving schedule will be communicated on Monday next week.”

Source:GMM