With the 2013 F1 car launch season in full swing offering teams the ideal chance to show off their plans and driver line-ups to assembled crowds of journalists, Force India
sparked gossip by being singularly lacking in driver presence at their own launch at Silverstone on Friday.
Paul di Resta did the honours, although despite receiving a public endorsement from team principal Vijay Mallya there's still speculation that his own 2013 race seat is not entirely as secure as the Scot would like. But the team was certainly completely tight-lipped about who might be in the frame for the team's second seat.
"The decision we will make will be for the benefit of the team," deputy boss Bob Fernley told the media attending the launch of the new VJM06.
Although rumours of a tweet from di Resta 'outing' former Williams
F1 driver Bruno Senna as his new team mate did the rounds on Friday, any such message was quickly deleted. And while Senna, Luiz Razia and Jamie Alguersuari have all been linked to the seat in recent days, the smart money now seems to be split between former Force India
driver Adrian Sutil
and the team's 2012 test and reserve driver Jules Bianchi.
"At least Jules and Adrian, absolutely ... Jules is a significant candidate for what we're doing, along with Adrian," said Fernley when asked about possible candidates for the second race seat. "And a few others," he added quickly: "I think we shouldn't close any doors off."
Most of the betting seemed to be going in Bianchi's direction at the end of the week, but the Frenchman opted not to be present at Silverstone on Friday and instead attended the Ferrari
launch at Maranello earlier in the morning. That possibly points to the Ferrari
Driver Academy graduate taking up a third driver position at Ferrari
in 2013 rather than sticking with cash-strapped Force India.
Fernley went on to stoke speculation that his team had perhaps not been entirely sold on the idea of putting Bianchi in the race seat so soon, having not expected their former driver Nico Hulkenberg
to exit the team for Sauber as early as he did.
"If we'd had an ideal world we'd have liked to run Jules for two years as a third driver," Fernley admitted. "We were not ready for Jules to take that step, we were looking at a longer period of time."
Fernley insisted that the team had now resolved such doubts and believed that Bianchi was indeed ready for the prime time, and that it had been just a case of ticking all the boxes.