Top 10 F1 Drivers of the Year 2011:
Force India F1
Force India-Mercedes VJM04
2011 could prove to be a pivotal year in Adrian Sutil's F1 career, but not necessarily for the better.
Although the German helped Force India to its best-ever finish in the teams' standings, with sixth place ahead of both Sauber and Toro Rosso, he knew he could still find himself without a seat if the Silverstone-based squad opted for test driver Nico Hulkenberg in 2012.
Despite being neck-and-neck with rookie team-mate Paul di Resta in qualifying throughout the year – eventually edging the battle 10-9 at the final round - Sutil showed what he was capable of with sixth in the Interlagos finale and string of other point-scoring finishes that elevated him to ninth in the final standings.
Sadly, Force India, its hand possibly already forced prior to Brazil, announced that Hulkenberg would indeed take Sutil's place alongside di Resta in 2012, leaving the elder German in limbo with just a handful of seats still available.
Whether he lands at either Williams or HRT – and he remains the favourite at the former - Sutil is unlikely to find a car to match the VJM04 next season.