The continued lack of action regarding next year's F1 line-up at Force India has produced some interesting speculation surrounding not only the drivers who will feature for the Silverstone team in 2012, but also whether current team principal Vijay Mallya will be at the helm.
Paul di Resta, Adrian Sutil and Nico Hulkenberg continue to wait on Mallya's decision which, despite the Indian claiming that it would be made around the time of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, remains unresolved, at least in public. The latest date for an announcement coincides with Force India's Christmas Party, but the rumour mill suggests that Mallya may not be the man to make it.
According to Swiss magazine Blick
, the billionaire airline and alcohol magnate could be facing enough business worries to hand total control of the team to fellow Indian Subrata Roy Sahara, whose eponymous conglomerate bought into the team ahead of its 'home' grand prix. The report also talks of disagreements between the two entrepreneurs regarding the management of the team going forward.
Of the three drivers, Sutil is expected to be the odd man out, despite besting rookie di Resta in the point standings in 2011. The German also blotted his copybook with an alleged assault on Genii Capital CEO Eric Lux in a Shanghai nightclub following the Chinese Grand Prix. While no-one is openly claiming that that incident is behind his expected exit from Force India, it may count against him when it comes to landing one of the remaining seats on the grid, at Williams and HRT respectively.
The identity of Hulkenberg's replacement as reserve driver may come as something of a surprise, however, with current Ferrari back-up Jules Bianchi the man named by Blick
journalist Roger Benoit, despite Force India being powered by Mercedes rather than the Prancing Horse. It is hard to see what Bianchi, who won races at both the recent Bercy Kart Masters and Felipe Massa's International Race of Champions events, stands to gain from the move, although it is likely to provide him with a greater chance of Friday running than remaining at Maranello.