Sutil, Force India and the Future
Autosport carries a short article today on Adrian Sutil's statement that he will be staying with Force India for the foreseeable future. In spite of its brevity, this article is quite telling in what it reveals about the team.Spyker F8 VIISutil says that the second driver will be chosen on merit, rather than the amount of sponsorship he brings with him, and this must be a sign that Force India's finances are pretty secure. Vijay Mallya's enthusiasm and financial clout reminds one of Dietrich Mateschitz's ownership of the Red Bull and Toro Rosso teams, so it looks quite possible that the team that was once Jordan is on the road to glory once again. After all, Red Bull have to be considered as potential race winners next season and, given time and development, Force India could follow the same route.Although the team has suffered from a lack of funding in the last few years as it passed from one owner to the next, the core employees remain and the presence of Mike Gascoyne as Chief Technology Officer also bodes well for the future. It is unlikely that we will see a huge jump in the performance of the cars next season (Adrian Newey's presence at Red Bull has taken a couple of years to have real impact, remember), but progress towards the front of the grid should become noticeable in the years that follow.Sutil's stock is very high at the moment. Although it seems that the rumored chance of a seat at McLaren is fading, he could probably have found a drive elsewhere in F1 had he wanted it. But he may be taking the wise option in staying at Force India; the potential for improvement is there now and he could be in the right place at the right time.I hope it all turns out well for the team. It has fans still from the days when it was Jordan and their patience and loyalty deserve reward. Let us not forget, too, that Jordan were the last team to enter F1 with a bang, showing tremendous potential right from the first (and very pretty cars in their 7-Up sponsorship) and soon challenging the top teams for points and podium places. Not even Red Bull can say quite the same - their best days probably lie ahead of them, after a struggle through their first years.With customer cars unlikely to be allowed in the near future, the Red Bull/Force India pattern may be the way for new teams to enter the sport. That depends upon existing teams coming up for sale to wealthy buyers, of course, and holds out no hope for completely new teams entering. Toro Rosso and Super Aguri may somehow manage to stay in the game if they can work out a compromise with the teams that object to their presence but it looks as though it is too late for Prodrive.That would mean that the number of teams stays at eleven with F1 becoming a closed club. I cannot think that would be good for the sport; it was always envisaged that twelve would be the right number of teams with 24-car grids and new teams entering to take the place of old and dying ones. Change is a sign of life and to become fixed in one place is an indicator that death approaches. Let us hope that F1 finds a way through its present problems and is able to develop to meet the challenges of a new century.
It is good to hear they want to choose a new driver on talent alone but I can't agree that they are close to becoming a team that can challenge for races. I think they are some way off that and next season will be another one of consolidation for Force India.
Alianora La Canta
First, I'd like to see Force India actually last the season (unlike the previous two incumbents). Although I suspect that Force India has the will (unlike Midland) and the money (unlike Spyker) to do Formula 1 for a decent length of time, I want to see it happen before making any grand predictions on where it'll end up. However, the fact that they didn't taken Roldan Rodruigez as a race driver the moment he waved a fistful of money at them gives me hope that improvement will follow.
I agree that it will a few years yet before Force India can realistically think about winning races, Betting, but next year could see them move from the back of the grid towards the midfield. The signs are there.
Oh, I'm making no predictions, Alianora - just looking at signs and musing a bit. And the financial signs, at least, look good. I think you'll get your wish in 2008. :)
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