Force India will be looking to bounce back this year after a disappointing 2012, in which they lost sixth place to Sauber in the constructors’ championship.
Despite some strong performances from both Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg, a combination of less pace than their rivals and bad luck cost them the chance to repeat their finish from 2011.
Testing with the team’s new car went reasonably smoothly, but Force India’s preparations for the new season were not helped by the fact it took them until the third pre-season test to announce that Adrian Sutil would be returning to the team he drove for from 2007-2011 as a replacement for Hulkenberg, who left to join Sauber at the end of last season.
However, with di Resta and Sutil having enjoyed a successful partnership at Force India in 2011, and the new car appearing to be an improvement on the 2012 model, the team will be confident they can make a step forward this year.
14) Paul di Resta
2013 is a make-or-break year for Paul di Resta if he is to prove he is capable of making the step up to a top team in the future.
Highly regarded by many, di Resta has shown himself to be a solid Grand Prix driver since making his debut two years, but he has been outperformed by teammates Sutil and Hulkenberg in both of his Formula One campaigns.
For most of last season di Resta was more than a match for Hulkenberg, with fourth in Singapore his best result, but a loss in form towards the end of the season which coincided with him failing to secure a drive at McLaren or Mercedes saw him fall away from his teammate and end the year in 14th place.
There is no doubt that on his day the Scot is capable of troubling the frontrunners, but those days have been few and far between for him and if he doesn’t up his game this year, the chances of him landing a top drive in the future will diminish further.
15) Adrian Sutil
This year gives Adrian Sutil the perfect opportunity to restore his reputation in Formula One.
The German joined Force India back in 2007 (when the team was known as Spyker) and established himself as a good midfield driver in his first career. However, legal problems and a criminal conviction over his part in an assault in a Chinese nightclub saw him released by the team and out of the sport last year.
Nico Hulkenberg’s departure to Sauber has given Sutil a way back into his former team, and having beaten di Resta when he partnered him in 2011, the 30-year-old will be confident of re-establishing himself as the team leader at Force India.
There is no doubting that Sutil is an immensely talented driver, particularly in wet conditions, but with his criminal record potentially posing him problems when it comes to gaining visas to enter certain countries on the calendar, the effect his history off the track will have on his F1 return remains to be seen.
Hopes for the season
The issue with the Formula One midfield at the moment is that it’s incredibly competitive, and with precious few regulation changes from last year, teams like Force India, Sauber and Williams are now being separated by fractions of a second. This means it is incredibly difficult for one team to gain a big enough step to establish themselves at the front of that group.
However, testing has gone well for Force India – Sutil’s lack of seat time notwithstanding – and with the team having two drivers they know well and have worked with for several years, they are well placed to get the most out of their new car.
Although it will be difficult for them to improve on their seventh place finish from last season, all it takes in a tight midfield is for a few good results to swing momentum in your favour, and with an experienced driver line-up and solid package, it is far from certain that Force India will fail to better their result from last year.