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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Jules Bianchi linked to Force India 2013 Race Seat

On New Years Eve Roger Benoit, a veteran F1 Reporter writing for Blick, stated that Sebastian Buemi had been told by Force India that he was no longer in the running for the, currently vacant, 2013 drive.  Buemi is now focused on retaining his third driver role with Red Bull Racing for the coming season.

Buemi driving the Toro Rosso at Spa Francochamps in 2011
No longer in contention for the Force India Drive
Copyright: Mark Thompson/Getty Images
Benoit reports that Force India are in negotiations with Ferrari to supply the team's 2014 engine and Jules Bianchi, a Ferrari Test Driver might get the second seat this year as part of any deal.

The second alternative he proffers is Adrian Sutil, though doubts still remain about his ability to get entry visas for China, Canada and America to compete in those Grand Prix.

Roger Benoit has impeccable credentials so I'm reading into this story that Benoit considers that Bruno Senna is out of the running for the team while the young guns; Luiz Razia and Robert Frijns are also gone.  I wouldn't dismiss Senna just yet as a Ferrari engine deal would need a performance clause written into Force India's  Bianchi/Ferrari contract

If Force India take Bianchi on for 2013 as part of a 2014 engine deal with Ferrari, does it mean that they'll have to keep him for the 2014 season too?  That would be a lot of commitment by the team particularly if Bianchi failed to bring home the points next season. Considering that I think Bruno Senna might still be in with a shout should Sutil not be available for all races.

Don't rule Senna out of the Force India Drive just yet
Copyright: Williams F1/LAT Photographic
The exclusion of Buemi from the Force India race seat is not surprising.  On November 8th last I referred to another article by Benoit who had interviewed Buemi at that time:
Roger Benoit says that Force India are expected to confirm their 2013 driver line-up on Wednesday next with di Resta widely expected to be partnered by one of Sutil, Senna, or Buemi.  (I'll have to paraphrase Benoit's quote from Buemi as its is a translation) he quotes Buemi as saying that if he brought £5 million to the team he'd be immediately confirmed.

As I said at that time:
This kind of public discussion around money would probably not sit well with his potential employers so we can expect that he won't get the seat.  Sutil or Senna, £10 or £12 million?
Benoit's current consideration of Bianchi throws another name onto the list which was previously off-radar but we can expect an announcement from the team imminently given that they'll want their driver line-up finalised before their 2013 Car launch date of February 1st, less than a month away.