Force India have confirmed that Adrian Sutil will race for them in 2013, ending the long-running speculation over who would claim the vacant seat at the team alongside Paul di Resta.
Sutil, 30, competed for the Silverstone-based squad between 2007 and 2011, before losing his drive to fellow German Nico Hulkenberg. However, after giving Sutil a run in their new Mercedes-powered VJM06 at last week’s Barcelona test, Force India have opted to re-sign him.
“I’m delighted to be back in Formula One, especially with a team I know so well,” said Sutil. “I’m very happy and I want to thank Sahara Force India for giving me a second chance. Having been away from the sport, I’m even more determined to achieve my goals in Formula One.
“Things went really well at the Barcelona test last week and it almost feels as though I’ve never been away. Driving the car felt so natural and I was able to get back in the groove quickly and find the limit. Now my focus is on making the most of the final test session this week, working with the team in the simulator and getting myself in the best possible shape for Melbourne.”
Force India team principal Vijay Mallya said the decision to hire Sutil instead of the team’s 2012 reserve driver Jules Bianchi was not easy.
“It was a close call, but ultimately we felt that Adrian’s experience and historic links to the team gave him the edge, and will provide us with the best possible chance of realising our ambitions for the coming season,” said Mallya. “If he can rediscover the exceptional form he showed in the second half of 2011, I’m confident that we can pick up where we left off at the end of 2012.
“As for Jules Bianchi, he has impressed us enormously with his speed and work ethic, and I’m hopeful we can continue working with him this year to help him develop into a future Grand Prix driver.”
Sutil’s confirmation means that all 11 teams have now announced their 2013 driver line-ups. Sutil, who has 90 Grand Prix starts behind him, will get his second outing behind the wheel of the VJM06 in Barcelona on Friday. He’ll continue driving duties on Saturday before handing the car back to team mate Di Resta for the final day of pre-season testing on Sunday.