As pre-season testing draws ever closer the 2013 F1 grid still remains incomplete. Force India have yet to announce either drivers in their line-up and Caterham have only so far announced Charles Pic. With suggestions that both teams are looking for money from their drivers and looking forwards to the impeding 2014 rule changes it may still be days or weeks before we know the outcome.
Force India have in recent years always announced their drivers on or around their Christmas party, however that deadline has passed this season and there is yet to be an announcement.
Paul di Resta looks set to be confirmed as one of the drivers after he had a seat fitting with the team on Friday. Over the past two years Di Resta has been a consistent if unspectacular driver being beaten by both his teammates. He was overlooked by both Mercedes and McLaren for a 2013 seat and this year may prove to be make or break for him.
Concerning his teammate the Scotsman said he is surprised that Force India has yet to announce its drivers. Speaking at the Autosport International event he admitted that he didn’t think it was a great position to be in, in the middle of January.
The second seat is said to be between former driver Adrian Sutil and current test driver Jules Bianchi. With suggestions in recent days that Bianchi could be most likely to partner Di Resta rumours where further fueled over the weekend when the Frenchman won Felipe Massa’s karting competition dressed in Force India overalls.
Although this may only suggest that Bianchi will play some sort of role at Force India in 2013, there may be other reasons behind a potential Bianchi appointment. One such reason could be the new engine regulations in 2014. Mercedes, Force India’s current engine supplier, has said it will only provide engines to two other teams in 2014. With Bianchi being a Ferrari academy driver some have suggested that having Bianchi as a 2013 driver would guarantee Force India Ferrari engines in 2014.
Another reason over the stalling of the driver announcement could be Vijay Mallya’s financial situation in India. Despite his financial issues Mallya invested over £50 million in the team before the end of the 2012 season which should help develop the team but also suggests that Force India is loosing its ties with Mercedes and McLaren.
Caterham have also yet to announce their second driver for 2013 and now 2012 drivers Heikki Kovalainen and Vitaly Petrov could both face 2013 without a drive.
The team have seemed to suggest that Kovalainen will not be driving for them in 2013 with chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne saying that Kovalainen should have shown the team more respect if he wanted a seat in 2013.
Kovalainen admitted that his chances of staying with the team were slim and as the season came to a close it appeared that the relationship between him and the team had deteriorated.
The Finnish driver has previously stated that he would not be a pay driver however his decision to not seek sponsors may leave him without a drive for 2013.
Petrov, the teams other 2012 driver, has also yet to secure the second 2013 Caterham seat. Petrov’s agent Oksana Kosachenko admitted that talks over her drivers future had stalled and he could be left without a seat for 2013.
Kosachenko suggested that negotiations with the team were on hold as the team restructures itself. The team appears to be undecided on whether it is seeking a driver with experience or with money.
The longer both teams take to make the decisions the more it suggests that both teams are reliant on money to keep their teams running. However money doesn’t always equate into talent and results.
Both Caterham and Force India could have to take a calculated risk that the cash their prospective drivers may bring will help develop a car that will produce results on the track.