Force India to pick drivers before Abu Dhabi
Force India team principal Vijay Mallya expects to have a decision on his 2012 driver line-up by the next grand prix in Abu Dhabi.
Mallya originally wanted to announce his driver plans at the end of the season, but last week current driver Adrian Sutil said he needed to know sooner so that he could make his own preparations for 2012. Force India has three drivers on its books in Sutil, Paul di Resta and reserve driver Nico Hulkenberg, with rumors circulating that the latter two will be driving the team's cars next season.
Asked in India if there would be an announcement between now and Abu Dhabi, Mallya said: "I would expect so."
He added: "I made it very clear that I would decide by December, however, I have since been requested to decide earlier. So I will respect that need and take an early decision, that's all I can say."
But he insists a decision has not yet been made about which of the three drivers will fill the two seats.
"All the three drivers are there, all three are very much in contention and they are three top class drivers as far as I'm concerned. Only two can sit in the car so that's going to be a difficult one for me, I know that. But yes, I will respect their needs and decide earlier."
Adrian Sutil has some personal sponsorship, but Mallya said his decision would not be based on money and he would instead look to find the best possible driver pairing in terms of performance.
"We don't need pay drivers, we never have had that need and we don't want to sell a seat in the car," Mallya said. "So the sponsorship that comes is not relevant as far as I'm concerned. We want performance. I announced a deal with the Sahara Group, they've brought $100 million into the team, and obviously their expectation, as is mine, is that we will judiciously uses this money to make sure the team's performance improves. A driver is very much part of the team's performance as well." ESPN F1