Although an official statement remains unforthcoming, Force India team owner Dr Vijay Mallya has again tacitly confirmed that he is likely to stick with the same two drivers that have seen the squad through its first season.

While speculation has surrounded several other outfits on the grid - most notably Toro Rosso and Honda - with regard to their 2009 line-ups and whether there would be any major changes, little has been said about Force India which, in previous guises of Midland and Spyker, was often a hotbed of debate about possible changes year on year.

Now with billionaire Mallya at the helm, however, Force India can afford to choose its drivers on the basis of what they can bring to the team other than money, and the Indian, despite admitting that the current financial crisis is even causing him to look carefully at the balance sheet, appears happy to retain the 'youth and experience' combination of Adrian Sutil and Giancarlo Fisichella.

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"I have made it really clear that I am quite happy with Adrian and Giancarlo, and they will continue with us in 2009," Mallya said during Friday's media gathering in Shanghai, confirming suggestions he has made throughout the season.

Sutil first appeared with the former Jordan team in its Midland guise, when he backed up Christijan Albers and Tiago Monteiro, before being promoted to a race seat with Spyker last season. The German has shown flashes of potential, most notably at Monaco, where he was fastest in wet practice in 2007 and was heading for a possible fourth place before being collected by Kimi Raikkonen this season.

Fisichella, meanwhile, is approaching his 212th GP start in China this weekend, having raced for Minardi, Jordan, Benetton/Renault since 1996, and, while his performances have not exactly been sparkling this season, Mallya has frequently confirmed the contribution the Italian's experience makes to the team.

The comment will bring an end to the premature speculation that Britain's Paul di Resta may have got a shot in the top flight with the Silverstone team, although the DTM title contender may yet find a way of being involved in the future, provided Mallya does a deal to switch from Ferrari power to Mercedes in 2009.

Speculation that Force India was shopping around for an alternative source of motivation arose at Fuji, with commercial director Ian Phillips admitting that the team was speaking to several potential suppliers, and Mallya has now confirmed that Mercedes remains a possibility, especially as current supplier Ferrari appears to be lagging behind on its development of a viable KERS system.

"As far as Force India is concerned, we are negotiating for a complete package which includes the engine, the gearbox and the KERS system," Mallya confirmed, "We are not splitting it up into three different components.

"I know of teams that are spending enormous sums of money trying to develop the KERS system, [but] we have said from the very start that we are not capable of developing this system, we don't have the in-house resources to develop KERS and that we would buy it as part of the drive-train package. And that's precisely where we are."