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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Sutil/Bianchi may share Sahara Force India seat?

On foot of the news that Adrian Sutil is to have a seat fitting with Force India for a potential outing in Barcelona and having seen Jules Bianchi take the car out in Jerez the intriguing possibility has arisen that the two drivers could share the seat at Force India in the coming season.

The fact that Sutil has a criminal conviction which might prevent him travelling to certain destinations on the Formula 1 calendar such as the US, China, Australia and Canada would leave open the opportunity for Jules Bianchi to deputise at certain locations as Driver 2A.

Were Adrian Sutil to be unable to enter certain countries he might benefit from sharing his seat with Jules Bianchi
Copyright Sahara Force India F1 Team
Given that the teams are entitle to have a third driver nominated who can drive the second car should one of their two race drivers be unable to do so I don't see any impediment to the proposal.

The Formula 1 Sporting Regulations state:
19.1 a) During a season each team will be permitted to use four drivers. Changes may be made at any time before the start of the qualifying practice session provided any change proposed after 16.00 on the day of scrutineering receives the consent of the stewards.
Additional changes for reasons of force majeure will be considered separately.
Any new driver may score points in the Championship.

b) In addition to the above each team will be permitted to run additional drivers during P1 and P2 provided :
- the stewards are informed which cars and drivers each team intends to use in each session before the end of initial scrutineering, changes after this time may only be made with the consent of the stewards ;
- no more than two drivers are used in any one session ;
- they carry the race number of the nominated driver they replace ;
- they use the engine and tyres which are allocated to the nominated driver ;
- they are in possession of a Super Licence.
c) If one of the team's nominated drivers is unable to drive at some stage after the end of initial scrutineering, and the stewards consent to a change of driver, the replacement driver must use the engine, gearbox and tyres which were allocated to the original driver (see Articles 25.4, 28.4 and 28.6).
The only beneficiaries are likely to be Sutil & Bianchi in that they both get Formula 1 drives and, of course, Force India in that the team would get money from Adrian Sutil and a cheaper Ferrari Engine deal for 2014 courtesy of Jules Bianchi.  The only downside from the teams perspective is a lack of continuity, unless both drivers show equal aptitude.  It's not as if Force India believe they are chasing the Constructors Title this year.

I don't know whether a German Citizen requires a Visa to enter countries such as Malaysia or Singapore but if it was the case that he did then it is likely that his conviction may present a problem there also.

Jules Bianchi could share a seat with Adrian Sutil
Copyright Sahara Force India F1 team
If this were to be the case it would well be that Jules Bianchi would undertake the first three flyaway races:

  • Australia,
  • Malaysia,
  • China

with Sutil taking over for

  • Bahrain,
  • Spain, 
  • Monaco

handing back to Bianchi for

  • Canada

Sutil then drives the European races in

  • Britain,
  • Germany,
  • Hungary,
  • Belgium,
  • Monza

before handing back to Bianchi for

  • Singapore,
  • Korea,
  • Japan,
  • India 

Sutil drives

  • Abu Dhabi


  • USA

and the driver with the most championship points then finishes the season with an extra drive in Brazil

This would mean that each driver would drive 9 Formula 1 races and the winner gets the 10th race and a guaranteed race seat for the following year.

Given that the teams are entitle to have a third driver nominated