German F1 news site Sports Bild
is reporting that Force India has decided to give Adrian Sutil the second race seat with the team for 2013.
The 30-year-old German driver tested for the team last week at the Circuit de Catalunya just outside Barcelona in Spain. Also testing with the team at the venue was French driver Jules Bianchi, who was himself hoping for an early elevation to the F1 starting grid with the team in 2013.
Sutil posted the better times, and even outpaced Force India's confirmed driver Paul di Resta in the test session, paving the way for his possible return to the squad. Sutil has since been said to be at work in the McLaren race simulator, as Force India has a deal with the Woking team to access some of the resources at the McLaren Technology Centre.
"As of Thursday, he will be in action for the last pre-season test in Barcelona," reported the German site. "On 17 March in Australia, he will race a Grand Prix for the first time since Brazil 2011."
newspaper and the Times of India
also carried reports that Sutil has won the race seat, citing Bianchi's manager Nicolas Todt as confirming the latest reports. Todt, whose father Jean is the FIA president, added that he did not know whether Force India would now retain Bianchi as their third driver in that event.
However, the Sports Bild
reports are not officially confirmed at this time and still very much a matter of speculation, with the original report even saying that Sutil's manager Manfred Zimmermann has since denied the latest rumours.
"Nothing has been finalised yet," Zimmermann told German news agency SID. "We are still hoping and waiting for a confirmation."
Sutil drove for Force India for four seasons and 90 Grand Prix races from 2008 until 2011, but sat out last year's championship following an incident in a Shanghai nightclub after the 2011 Chinese Grand Prix, which saw him involved in an alternation with Genii Capital CEO Eric Lux. Lux was left with a cut neck from a broken champagne glass, and although Sutil subsequently apologised Lux pressed charges and Sutil was fined and handed a suspended 18-month prison sentence.
Ultimately the decision might not have had as much to do with the Catalunya showdown with Bianchi as it did with money and engine deals, with Sutil able to being more money to the team than Bianchi.