As rumoured, Formula One 'old hands' Giancarlo Fisichella and Ralf Schumacher will get a chance to stake their claim to at least one of the seats in the renamed Force India squad for 2008, after being granted a run-out with the team at next month's Jerez group test.

Out of work after being told that their services were no longer required by Renault and Toyota respectively, the two veterans remain determined to stay in the top flight for at least one more season, and see Force India - which has yet to reveal the identity of either of its drivers for 2008 - as one of the few potential opportunities open to them, even though the move would, on current showings, be down the grid.

"Whilst no drivers have been officially confirmed by Renault, the team has given me permission to explore other options," 34-year old Fisichella commented, "I was invited to test with Force India at Jerez and I was very happy to accept [the invitation]."

As with the Italian, Schumacher has prior history with the team, the 32-year old having started his F1 there when it was known as Jordan. The German has been the most-hyped addition to the testing roster, thanks to prior working relationship with team owner Vijay Mallya, whose Kingfisher concern backed Toyota, but accepts that it may not lead to a race seat next season.

"I have known Vijay for many years," Schumacher confirmed, "I fully understand his passion for the sport and know that he will put this drive into Force India to make it a success. For any driver, driving for a young dynamic team with high ambitions is a good opportunity but, at the moment, it is just one test to see how we get on working together, and whether this is possible. I think I can help the team with its development programme, but we will see."

Fisichella and Schumacher will join Franck Montagny on the list of 'new faces' joining the team for the test, which takes place at Jerez over 4-7 December, while four of the five drivers who ran with the team in Barcelona earlier this month also return to action.

Fisichella, Montagny and Schumacher will all get a full day's testing while, following their outstanding performance and feedback at the Circuit de Catalunya, Christian Klien and Vitantonio Liuzzi will also run for one day. Roldan Rodriguez and Giedo van der Garde will finish the test for the team as part of their development programme, while Adrian Sutil is conspicuous by his absence, although he remains favourite to stay with the Silverstone-based team next season.

"I was in contact with Vijay Mallya from my time at Toyota," Montagny commented, "Towards the end of the year, we talked about the future and I heard about the possibility of testing with Force India. Of course, I was very tempted, as I am sure that with the new owners, the team will be very strong."

All seven drivers will continue to use the former Spyker F8-VIIB, which will again run in the interim burgundy-and-white livery introduced in Barcelona.

 

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