Formula 1 News

Sutil, Bianchi shape up for Barcelona 'shootout'

Paul di Resta teammate will probably be decided just after the second round of testing.
Wednesday, February 20, 2013

February 20th, 2013 (GMM).- Barcelona will this week host a head-to-head 'shootout' for the final race seat on the 2013 grid.

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Just like Williams weighed up Jenson Button versus Bruno Junqueira in 2000, and Nick Heidfeld versus Antonio Pizzonia in 2005, this time it will be Adrian Sutil and Jules Bianchi fighting for a single place at Force India.

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In 2013, however, the situation is a little different, given that driver sponsorship and their links to manufacturers will also play a role in the ultimate identity of Paul di Resta's teammate.

The well-connected French commentator Jean-Louis Moncet said he is "worried" about Bianchi ahead of the shootout, because the Ferrari-linked 23-year-old has "no budget".

In Auto Plus, Moncet quoted a source as saying: "Jules is certain to drive with Force India in 2014.

"But for 2013, with more than an eye on budgets, Sutil or (Narain) Karthikeyan have a better chance, unless Ferrari contributes financially for Jules."

Actually, Germany's Auto Motor und Sport claims Bianchi does actually have a budget - EUR 4 million - and a higher one than that offered by Sutil's backers.

He also has the Ferrari link, but German correspondent Michael Schmidt claims another factor in play could be Sutil's link with Mercedes; the German manufacturer that currently supplies Force India's engines.

In short, the talks about Force India's turbo V6 supplier for 2014 and beyond will be key.

Schmidt claims Mercedes is charging about EUR 21 million for its V6, while Ferrari is asking only 17 million.

But a rumour in the Barcelona paddock on Tuesday is that Mercedes could be throwing in a gearbox deal as well, which could play in German Sutil's favour.

Back in Jerez it was Frenchman Jules Bianchi who had the opportunity to do his best to basically get himself in the mix of final candidates, something that apparently he did with an excellent work during his test run in which he clocked the third overall best time at Jerez.

Now at Barcelona, the attention falls into Adrian Sutil, who after so much speculation, will finally be able to get himself back into a Formula 1 car, the VJM06 and will look to make a good enough impression to be back with the team as a driver for the 2013 season.

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