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Narain Karthikeyan or Jules Bianchi? Second Driver for Force India Still up in the Air

February 9th, 2013 at 7:32 PM
By Mark Eddinger

The only remaining open seat for the 2013 Formula One season is the second seat at Force India. As of Saturday no decision had been made but there seem to be two front runners for the ride. Jules Bianchi and Narain Karthikeyan seem to be the two drivers in the mix.

'Narain Karthikeyan' photo (c) 2012, Nic Redhead - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Bianchi one would think has the upper hand because he ran the test for Force India the past four days at Jerez in the new VJM06 car. On Friday he was second on the speed charts only behind Kimi Raikkonen and Lotus. The plan for Force India though was to keep the young Bianchi as the third driver for another season before moving him into a race seat. 

The speed that he has shown though may just land him the ride already in 2013.

"Even if the plan was to stay a third driver for two years, now the plan has changed and I'm ready," Bianchi told Autosport on Friday.

Karthikeyan is the other driver in the mix mainly because of the potential Tata sponsorship that he could bring to the table which is always a plus. Force India boss, Vijay Mallya, and Karthikeyan have never been best of friends but will the sponsorship dollars that Tata is offering be enough to overcome that?

"As soon as Tata increased the budget for 2013, talks with Force India began," a source told the Deccan Chronicle. "Unlike the past, the negotiation has been a lot more positive. If talks fail, he will probably go to America for (the) IndyCar Series."
 
With what seems to be increased funding from Tata it looks like Karthikeyan, who ran 19 of the 20 races last season for HRT F1 Team, will be on the track in 2013 for open wheel action. The question is whether it is with Force India in F1 or in the IndyCar Series where he has never raced. 

 

Tags: Force India, Formula One, Jules Bianchi, Motorsports, Narain Karthikeyan, Vijay Mallya

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