“I am delighted to present our line-up for the 2012 season,” said Force India team principal and managing director Dr Vijay Mallya. “In Paul and Nico we have two extremely talented drivers with tremendous potential. I think Paul caught the eye of everybody in the pit lane during his rookie season.
“His speed, maturity and race craft confirmed that we were right to believe in him and we look forward to working with him again next year. As for Nico, we identified him as a rising star at the end of 2010 and chose to evaluate him during the course of this season. Despite having only limited time in the car, he convinced us that he deserved a race seat for 2012.”
Di Resta enjoyed a remarkable maiden campaign in the sport in 2011. As well as regularly outpacing then team mate Sutil, the young Scot finished the year as the top rookie driver after scoring 27 points on his way to 13th in the standings. A highlight was his sixth-place grid slot for his home race at Silverstone.
“I’m really looking forward to my second season of Formula One and continuing to grow and develop with Sahara Force India,” said the 25 year-old. “I’ve said all along that I love being part of this team: they are ambitious, hungry for success and we work well together.
“I’m really excited about 2012 and there is a real sense of belief that we can continue to push the top teams and take another step forward. I’d also like to thank the team for all their hard work this year and for all the support they’ve given me. I’ll take some time out over the next few weeks to recharge my batteries and hopefully come back even stronger in 2012.”
Hulkenberg spent the 2011 season on the bench as the team’s third driver, although he did enjoy practice session runs at 14 of the year’s 19 Grands Prix. A year earlier the German enjoyed a stellar debut season at Williams, scoring 22 points and a pole position at the Brazilian Grand Prix, but was forced to make way for Pastor Maldonado at the British team for 2011.
“I’m obviously delighted to be staying with Sahara Force India and to be given the chance to race next year,” explained the 24 year-old. “It wasn’t easy to watch from the side lines this season, but I did my best to help the team and show what I was capable of.
“I’m extremely motivated for 2012 and would like to thank everyone for believing in me and giving me this chance. I’m keen to get down to work over the winter to develop our new car and help the team build on this year’s achievements. The first test in Jerez can’t come soon enough.”
Force India’s announcement means that Sutil will leave for pastures new after six years with the team. Sutil’s tenure saw the team change name (and management personnel) from Midland to Spyker and finally to Force India in 2008. In total the 28 year-old scored 95 world championship points for the outfit, enjoying a career-best finish of fourth at the 2009 Italian Grand Prix.
Mallya paid tribute to the departing German, saying: “Our new line-up means we say ‘goodbye’ to Adrian Sutil, who has been with the team since we entered the sport. He has been an integral part of our success over the past four seasons and we wish him well for the future.”
There are two slots left on the 2012 grid that Sutil could in theory fill, with seats at Williams and HRT still vacant.