Formula One: Force India's 2011 Lineup Is Too Close to Call

Alistair HunterContributor IDecember 11, 2010

Hulkenberg may be in pole position for a drive at Force India.
Hulkenberg may be in pole position for a drive at Force India.Vladimir Rys/Getty Images

Force India are the unusual focus of the F1 transfer market this year.

As Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes are set to have an unchanged lineup for next season, the focus falls on the midfield for driver changes.

However, Williams have confirmed that Pastor Maldonado will drive with Rubens Barrichello next season.

Surprisingly, Vitaly Petrov has supposedly done enough to be in the Renault team next season with Robert Kubica.

This means that best team that new entrants can apply for is Force India.

Adrian Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi drove for the team in 2010, leading them to seventh place in the Constructors Championship with 68 points.

However, neither of the drivers has been officially confirmed for next season.

During the 2010 season, there were rumours that the inconsistent Liuzzi was going to be replaced by test driver Paul di Resta, who also managed to win the DTM series this season.

These rumours have not gone away, and the British driver has looked impressive in Friday practice sessions.

More drivers have found themselves linked with a move to Force India. Nico Hulkenberg was kicked out of the Williams team for Pastor Maldonado, despite managing to qualify on pole position for the 2010 Brazillian Grand Prix.

Karun Chandhok has also been linked with the team; it could be a good idea to see an Indian driver in an Indian team.

But, Chandhok had a tough season at HRT, before being replaced by Sakon Yamamoto and Christian Klien.

The strongest drivers of that group are probably Sutil and Hulkenberg. Sutil is an experienced driver, with his best finish in Formula One coming in the 2009 Italian Grand Prix, where he finished fourth.

Meanwhile, Hulkenberg has been a good driver this year. 2010 was his first year at the top level of the motorsport, and he scored several points and finished 14th in the Drivers Championship.

The young German also showed us some skills when he qualified on pole in difficult conditions at Interlagos. He beat Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull Racing car by over a second—that is a big surprise in any weather condition.

Liuzzi stepped into Formula One after former Force India driver Giancarlo Fisichella moved to Ferrari in 2009, and has had some questionable results in Formula One since.

He has the talent to be in F1, but there are many other drivers in several of the feeder series who could have performed better this season.

Paul di Resta did manage to win the DTM series this season, showing that he has the ability to win races.

It is surprising that he has not found a race seat yet, as he has performed well in practice sessions throughout the season.

Karun Chandhok had some good results at HRT—although that is maybe stretching the definition of good results—but he has no race seat due to a lack of money. He was one of the best drivers at the struggling team.

The race to be in the team next season is very close, but I suspect Hulkenberg will get in and di Resta will have to wait for another year.

However, I have no idea which of the current drivers will accompany him next season.

If I had to choose between them, I would go for Sutil as he has slightly more sponsorship money from Medion.

That's how close it is.