Adrian Sutil was finally confirmed as Force India’s driver for 2013 during the first day of the final winter testing session in Barcelona. Merely a day later, just when it seemed that Jules Bianchi’s F1 dream in 2013 was over, the young Frenchman was announced as Marussia’s second driver alongside Max Chilton.
Adrian Sutil has a long-running relationship with Force India. He started driving for the Silverstone outfit in 2006 as a test driver for Midland F1 and stayed on board for the various guises of the team until the end of the 2011 Formula 1 season. In 2012, the German was booted out to make space for his up-and-coming fellow countryman Nico Hulkenberg. Sutil also ran into some legal problems, following a club accident with a Genii Capital executive.
Hulkenberg’s involvement with Force India, however, came to a premature end in October 2012, when the young German decided to make a lateral move to fellow midfielders Sauber. Hulkenberg’s departure led to four months of rumours on his eventual successor. For a brief moment even Heikki Kovalainen and Kamui Kobayashi seemed as plausible replacements. In February 2013, however, it became apparent that the final contest for the free spot will be between Sutil and Jules Bianchi, a member of the Ferrari young driver academy and Force India’s test driver in 2012.
Bianchi’s resume includes titles from the French Formula Renault 2.0 series (2007) and the Formula 3 Euro series (2009) and a runner-up spot from the 2012 Formula Renault 3.5 series. He also drove for two seasons (2010 and 2011) in GP2, where the Frenchman finished third both times. Bianchi’s 2013 hopes for a racing spot in Formula 1 were primarily concentrated on Force India, but after the Silverstone outfit decided to bet on Sutil’s experience, his management swiftly attacked Marussia.
The Russian team’s line-up was considered complete since the beginning of the month, when the young Luiz Razia was announced as the teammate of a fellow rookie Max Chilton. The Brazilian, however, failed to deliver the sponsorship package that was part of his deal with Marussia and his relationship with the outfit deteriorated swiftly. On the second day of testing in Barcelona (March 1st, 2013), it was announced that Razia’s contract was terminated with an immediate effect and Bianchi will be the team’s second driver in 2013.
Should Razia find a new way into Formula 1 in one of the following seasons, there will be no love lost between him and Jules Bianchi. And now, after Marussia’s and Force India’s announcement, the silly season in F1 is officially over!
Sources: BBC F1, Yalla F1, Wikipedia