The Di Resta Special

11/02/2013
NEWS STORY

Mat Coch writes:

With just one seat left on the Formula One grid, that alongside Paul di Resta at Force India, speculation has reached fever pitch over just who might fill it.

There are a host of drivers impatiently waiting in line, from favourites like Jules Bianchi and Adrian Sutil to rank outsiders such as Vitaly Petrov, Kamui Kobayashi and even Narain Karthikeyan.

At its launch the team revealed its car with just di Resta present, deputy-team principal Bob Fernley deflecting questions about the 'other' driver by suggesting it would confuse the real story that day; the car launch.

Instead it was a lonely and awkward Paul Di Resta perched on the car like Billy No-Mates, which made for even more awkward photos.

More than a week on we are still waiting to hear who will complete the driver roster for 2013. After four days in Jerez it was Jules Bianchi who got time in the car, suggesting he could be named by the Silverstone squad in the near future. However the team has previously said it is looking at him for 2014 - it had hoped to run Nico Hulkenberg and Di Resta for two years before promoting the rookie.

Hulkenberg put a bullet in that plan when he defected to Sauber. That decision was made in October. Four months on and we are seemingly no closer to a resolution.

Some weeks ago there were rumours regarding the team's financial health. These were categorically denied, the team pointing to 50million worth of new investment it is busy spending.

However that nagging feeling remains. If it was not in need of money why has signing a driver taken so long? Heikki Kovalainen is available, and is probably the best of the available bunch, or the team could draft in Kamui Kobayashi.

Neither Kovalainen nor Kobayashi has money, while Vitaly Petrov's has allegedly dried up. Bruno Senna has taken his pocket book to endurance racing and Timo Glock will be racing German touring cars. There is no shortage of drivers with pedigree who would otherwise be busy falling over one another for the drive.

One name thrown in to the mix in recent days, courtesy of some partisan reporting from his home country, is Narain Karthikeyan. The Indian, who has driven for Jordan and Hispania throughout his rather unspectacular career, has backers who are allegedly willing to spend large sums of money to keep him in Formula One.

Of course, talks with a team are one thing, a contract and seat fitting are something quite different. But it does raise the eyebrows, leaving one to ponder just what the real story at Force India is.

Team owner Vijay Mallya has recently lost his billionaire status and his Kingfisher airline. The team is investing heavily but hasn't yet signed or confirmed its second driver. It denies suggestions it is struggling for money.

It is a curious state of affairs which is not healthy for a team this close to the start of the season. Whichever driver is signed, if not Bianchi, will now face an uphill task to familiarise himself with the team and the car.

Of course all this is good news for di Resta. The Scot with so much promise will be able to guide car development in a direction that favours him.

Without someone adding their own two cents to the team engineers and designers the 2013 Force India is fast becoming a 'Di Resta Special'. If the Scot is beaten by his teammate this season, whoever that may be, we should all take notice.

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Published: 11/02/2013
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