Paul di Resta could still be in the running to make his Formula 1 debut with Force India in 2009, it has been claimed - despite both Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil having been re-confirmed at the Silverstone-based concern at the weekend.

di Resta's name had entered the frame to join the squad next season following its new technical tie-up with McLaren-Mercedes and a brace of impressive tests for the Woking-based outfit last month.

Though Force India chairman Dr Vijay Mallya had admitted that he would be 'hard-pressed to ignore' McLaren's advice regarding drivers if it came his way - prompting speculation that di Resta, Pedro de la Rosa and latterly Gary Paffett could be in the reckoning - ultimately the Kingfisher Airlines billionaire has elected to retain the services of Fisichella and Sutil for a second season, as well as test driver Vitantonio Liuzzi [see separate story - click here]. Or so it would appear...

'McLaren CEO Martin Whitmarsh is expected to lobby Mallya strongly on di Resta's behalf,' stated British newspaper The Independent on the subject of the 22-year-old, who is managed by Lewis Hamilton's father Anthony.

"I'm not going to say that I am definitely not in contention," the West Lothian-born ace responded. "My name has been bandied about. I don't know where I stand or if it is going to happen."

Scottish newspaper the Daily Record added that di Resta's Plan B is to remain with Mercedes-Benz in the DTM in 2009, to complete the job that he had at one stage looked like finishing off this year - that of lifting the title.

"My commitment remains to do everything I can to ensure Mercedes win the championship next season," the former F3 Euroseries Champion underlined, "but I showed in the two tests I had with McLaren that I'm capable of racing in F1 and that's ultimately where I want to be."

Sutil, meanwhile, has told the German media that he 'always felt secure' in his Force India deal, whilst Mallya explained his decision by stating: "We certainly welcomed the insight and advice of our new partners; however, the choice of drivers was entirely ours' based on the current talent available on the market."