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 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.


Di Resta enjoying status as Force India’s lone driver

Paul di Resta has admitted he is quite enjoying his current status as Force India’s only race driver.

Since parting with now Sauber racer Nico Hulkenberg, the Silverstone based team has been weighing up its options for 2013, with Jules Bianchi and Adrian Sutil reportedly at the top of the candidates’ list.

Britain’s Daily Mail said the very last place on the 2013 grid should be filled by Force India in time for the forthcoming second pre-season test, in Barcelona.

But Scot di Resta, although openly disappointed to have missed out on a top seat this year, is quite enjoying the responsibility of being Force India’s only driver for now.

“It’s not affecting me one bit,” he insisted.

“I’m working away with the people I feel I have to, and in my third season with the team it’s good to have the challenge of developing my feedback. We’re working away on the small details, as we normally do, but my opinion is obviously being well respected by the team.”


Di Resta: Force India teammate delay is surprising

Paul di Resta has admitted he is surprised Force India is taking so long to decide his 2013 teammate.

Already openly disappointed to have missed out on a move to a bigger team, 26-year-old Scot di Resta is yet to learn who will be replacing his 2012 teammate Nico Hulkenberg, who has switched to Sauber.

Asked if he is surprised about the delay, he told Press Association: “I am surprised there has been nothing yet. The team have said they will announce it in good time as to where they are going to be, and I have to respect that.”

Asked if the situation affects his preparations for the new season, di Resta insisted: “Ultimately, it does.

“But at the end of the day, I know my job, and I am fully focused on what I need to achieve at the moment. I know who my team are, who my mechanics are. I’m feeling quite good about it, very positive. I’ve been at the factory and the vibe is very high.”

Di Resta, who admits he was disappointed with his second half of last season, scored 17 fewer points than German Hulkenberg in 2012.

“I’ve been through times like that where you just need to dig deep, and eventually you get out of it. Hopefully this year will be the year,” he said.


Di Resta not fussed over 2013 teammate

Force India is yet to announce the news, but Paul di Resta will almost certainly be staying for a third consecutive season in 2013.

Asked by Brazil’s Totalrace about the contract, the Scot reportedly answered: “It’s a team policy not to discuss it, but I’m not worried.

“I’m not a bit worried,” he added.

Indeed, the real question is who will join him at the Silverstone based squad next year: an old hand like his 2011 teammate Adrian Sutil, or a young charger like reserve driver Jules Bianchi.

“I feel I could handle a rookie on the team, as well as someone competitive,” said di Resta. “I feel I have enough experience and have been a part of this team long enough (for either).”

Pressed to nominate his favourite, he insisted: “To be totally honest, I don’t care. The decision is not mine and so it’s something I don’t worry about. I’m hired to do a job on the track.”


Di Resta says Hulkenberg’s Sauber switch a surprise

Paul di Resta was surprised when he heard his 2012 teammate Nico Hulkenberg had decided to move to Sauber next year.

Former F1 driver Johnny Herbert has described the German’s switch as a “sideways” step, while Hulkenberg on Thursday denied he is making the move to be closer to Ferrari.

“I was surprised that Nico left this team, to be fair, for an immediate competitor,” Scot di Resta is quoted by the PTI news agency in Abu Dhabi. “I don’t see it as being a step up, to be perfectly honest. I see it (Sauber) as an equal kind of status,” he added.

“Next year may be different,” di Resta is quoted as saying by AFP, “and I don’t know the full reasons why Nico has gone there.”

The 26-year-old, who earlier admitted he was disappointed to miss out on the grandee McLaren or Ferrari seats, said he is “content” to stay at Force India for 2013. He is less content, however, with the current dip in his 2012 campaign.

Di Resta, admitting he is frustrated to have fallen behind Hulkenberg recently, is quoted by the Scotsman as saying the season has “petered off” in the last few races.

“The way things have turned with Nico is frustrating because I was in front,” he said.


Di Resta admits need to spice up image

Paul di Resta has vowed to work on his image, after admitting it was “disappointing” to miss out on a move to a top team for 2013.

The Scot was linked with moves to McLaren and Ferrari, but McLaren ultimately signed young Mexican Sergio Perez, while Ferrari retained its Brazilian driver Felipe Massa. Di Resta admitted to the Telegraph that he thinks Perez “opens up various different markets” for McLaren, which could have contributed to the British team’s decision.

“But listen, it was flattering to be linked to a team like McLaren,” he said. “It has not come off this time but that doesn’t mean you should become any less ambitious.”

Another factor counting against di Resta could be his public persona, with F1 journalist Tom Cary saying he is “about as far from colourful as a formula one driver gets”.

“I think it’s a big thing,” di Resta admitted.

“I understand the need to get out there and show people who you are. It’s just about being more open but it takes time.”

He denies the fact both he and current McLaren driver Jenson Button share a manager in Richard Goddard could have counted against him.

“I don’t believe that,” said the 26-year-old. “I’m happy with Richard’s involvement and the way it works, and I think Martin (Whitmarsh) was equally happy with Richard’s involvement.”


Berger: I’d replace with Massa with Hulkenberg or di Resta

Former Ferrari driver Gerhard Berger thinks the great Italian team should drop Felipe Massa. However, after the Brazilian at Suzuka finally returned to the podium after a two-year absence, all the signs are that Ferrari is set to sign his 2013 contract. Austrian Berger is perplexed.

“This makes no sense,” he told Germany’s Auto Bild. “It’s never just about one race. I would put Hulkenberg or di Resta in his place. They are young and fast — exactly what Ferrari needs to fight for the constructors’ title,” added Berger.

Ferrari apparently does not agree. One team insider told Auto Motor und Sport: “Among the young guys we see nobody about whom we can say ‘We must have him’.”

Indeed, Massa, 31, is putting out the message that his future is now safe.

“The conversation we have been having until now has been that it (a new contract) should happen,” he told Portuguese-language media at Suzuka on Sunday. “I’m hoping it will be confirmed as soon as possible.”

Team boss Stefano Domenicali is also on message: “We will make an announcement soon,” he is quoted by Italy’s La Stampa.

If and when the news is confirmed, it will mean the seats at all of the top teams are essentially in place, with the rest of the 2013 grid to then follow suit. Ferrari-powered Sauber, tipped to re-sign Japanese Kamui Kobayashi after his hugely-popular Suzuka podium, has announced it will settle its 2013 lineup before November’s finale. And chief executive Monisha Kaltenborn also hinted about Massa’s future, suggesting speculation the Brazilian could return to Sauber if he is dropped by Ferrari is wide of the mark.

“It (Sauber’s decision) has, for a change, nothing to do with Ferrari,” she is quoted by the Sun.

Ferrari is expected to announce the Massa news either immediately before or immediately after this weekend’s Korean grand prix.

“This second place (in Japan) is a very important result in a decisive moment for him,” Domenicali is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.

Asked if that means Massa is staying in 2013, he added: “Let’s not take a second step before we’ve taken the first.”


Nationality played against di Resta for McLaren seat

Fellow Scot David Coulthard thinks Paul di Resta could still be a contender for a top seat in 2012.

Coulthard, the former long-time McLaren driver, believes his former team “looked at” Force India’s di Resta as a possible replacement for the departing Lewis Hamilton. But even though McLaren made much of their all-British driver pairing of Hamilton alongside Jenson Button since 2010, Coulthard thinks di Resta’s nationality actually played against him.

“My feeling is they (McLaren) had shaken the British tree as much as they could sponsor-wise and Perez, quite apart from his undoubted ability behind a wheel, offered something different in that respect,” he wrote in a column for the Telegraph.

Coulthard is probably referring to rumours Sergio Perez – Hamilton’s actual 2013 successor – could eventually bring his backer Telmex and other Mexican pesos to McLaren to replace wavering title sponsor Vodafone. McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh confirmed di Resta was considered for the seat.

“I know Paul very well and the true answer is that I rate him but it would probably have been continuing a little bit too much with the British theme to have gone that route,” he said.

But what about Ferrari? Even though Felipe Massa seems set for another season in red, Coulthard thinks di Resta is still a contender.

“Why not?” he said. “I’m biased but I feel Paul is the obvious choice.”


Best finish helps di Resta push for drive at bigger team

Paul di Resta on Sunday admitted his best-ever Formula One result in Singapore will not hurt his chances of stepping up to a better team.

Force India openly wants to keep hold of the talented Scot, but di Resta has been linked with the potentially vacant seats at the McLaren and Mercedes teams.

“I would like to think I am capable of stepping up to one of the bigger teams,” he said on Sunday after finishing fourth in Singapore; his best result since debuting last year. “But I’m not getting carried away,” he is quoted by the Telegraph. “When the time is right hopefully someone will step up and give me the chance to do that because I want to be in a car that wins races week in week out.”

Force India is powered by Mercedes engines, and the German carmaker played a big role in his formative career, taking him to the DTM championship in 2010.

“I have worked with manufacturer teams before and there is a big difference,” said di Resta. “But my loyalties lie here for the moment so I will remain focused on the job in hand.”

The 26-year-old recently split with his manager Anthony Hamilton and signed with the Jenson Button-linked stable headed by Richard Goddard. Di Resta admits the current period of speculation is hard to deal with.

“It is what it is,” he said. “It is a difficult position to be in but I have people taking care of that side of things for me. I’m happier than I ever have been with what’s going on around me. It feels like things are clicking into place and long may that continue.”