Great blog post from Sarah Holt (BBC) today about the dilemma Force India faces in choosing between two excellent drivers: Paul Di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg. Neither has sponsorship, and there are problems with needing to pay off Tonio Liuzzi for ending his contract a year early. Adrian Sutil, who had a good season, will almost certainly have to be kept as he brings sponsorship to the team. So where does the team go from here?
I support both these young drivers: Paul Di Resta is British, and in particular Scottish from West Lothian, near where I live at the moment. Nico Hulkenberg has shown his driver ability already, and despite that been rejected by Williams. Both have experience in F1 cars from the last season; Di Resta did a few Friday sessions and some good work in the young driver test, and also got time on Pirelli tyres with Sutil (in fact, he was faster than Sutil and Liuzzi).
Force India will need to make a decision soon. Di Resta still has a contract as Force India’s third/test driver for 2011. I can see the team hiring one as the test driver, and making the other a main driver. But which way will it go? Naturally, their loyalty should be towards Di Resta, but they’ve also seen what Hulkenberg can do. This, I would guess, is why they’re taking so long over it. How to decide between them?
If it was me making the decision, I would probably go with Paul Di Resta because he has shown himself to be competitive against both current Force India drivers, whereas in the Williams – which is comparable to the Force India – Nico Hulkenberg could only just beat Liuzzi last season. It does help that he’s Scottish and has the same birthday as me. On top of that, it would be interesting to see what a driver can do who hasn’t come the ‘traditional’ route through GP2. Beyond that, he’s slightly older than ‘the Hulk’, which means it’s about time he had his F1 debut as a main driver.
As it stands, I suspect Force India may be pushed by their engine supplier, Mercedes. Paul Di Resta drove for them in DTM. If they don’t have that push, they can always put the names into a hat and pick one at random. But if they choose Nico Hulkenberg then they really have to do better than Williams, which is added pressure.