Sky Sources: Force India will reappoint Adrian Sutil for 2013
German veteran expected to be chosen ahead of Jules Bianchi
By Pete Gill and William Esler. Last Updated: 28/02/13 3:26pm
Sky Sources understand Force India will reappoint Adrian Sutil as team-mate for Paul di Resta, with the German filling the last remaining driver vacancy for the upcoming 2013 season.
After a year on the sidelines during which he was found guilty of grievous bodily harm following an incident in a Chinese nightclub, the 30-year-old will return to the team for whom he drove between 2007 and 2011 as a replacement for Sauber recruit Nico Hulkenberg.
After an absence measured at exactly 452 days, Sutil made his comeback behind the wheel of a F1 car at last week's Barcelona test when he immediately impressed in the VJM06.
That successful audition appears to have sealed the deal on a return which completes the 2013 grid and banishes French youngster Jules Bianchi, the other leading contender to partner Di Resta, to wait at least another year for his big break in F1.
According to Sky Sports F1 commentator David Croft, the Frenchman will remain with the Silverstone-based team as reserve driver in 2013, despite being overlooked for a race seat.
The new F1 season begins on March 17 in Melbourne, Australia. Statisticians may be interested to know that, with Sutil's expected appointment closing the 2013 door on the likes of Heikki Kovalainen and Bruno Senna, only 16 of the 24 drivers who participated in the season-opening Australian GP a year ago will be on the grid for next month's curtain raiser.
The 2013 Grid in full
Red Bull: Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber.
Ferrari: Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa.
McLaren: Jenson Button and Sergio Perez.
Lotus: Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean.
Mercedes: Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
Sauber: Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Gutierrez.
Williams: Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas.
Force India: Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil (to be confirmed).
Toro Rosso: Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne.
Caterham: Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde.
Marussia: Luiz Razia and Max Chilton.