The third test at Barcelona – the last chance to test before shipping the cars to Australia – is under way, and the talk is of two teams: Force India, where Adrian Sutil has been confirmed as team mate to Paul di Resta, and Marussia, where it seems that Luiz Razia may not be driving after all.
Sutil is a good driver – in the eyes of this writer, one with unfinished business in F1 – and while nobody can condone the actions that got him a criminal conviction in the incident with Eric Lux, without the full details it is unwise to pass judgement. Some commentators have stated ‘the judge says he is a criminal, therefore he is a criminal’; perhaps it is more sensible to consider that, in times of anger, many people respond in an extreme manner. To destroy someone’s career over one such indiscretion is unfair; let’s welcome him the second chance.
Razia, the Brazilian, signed with Marussia some time ago, but has not been seen in the car since the original Jerez test. The story goes that his sponsors have not paid up, and that the deal may be on the rocks. The team, therefore, is in need of a replacement. Jules Bianchi, long favoured for the Force India drive, has been one suggestion, with Ferrari – he is one of their academy drivers – reportedly keen on getting him a race seat. Some sources suggest that this option has not gone down well with McLaren, with whom Marussia has a technical deal.
The strong story now is that none other than Heikki Kovalainen – a former McLaren driver, of course – is being lined up for the drive, and that the Finn will test at Barcelona tomorrow (Saturday). As with Sutil, I am a fan of Kovalainen, and believe him also to be one with more to do in F1. Marussia may not be the best place to show your wares, but Heikki is more than worthy of a place in F1, and here’s hoping he gets the gig.
The new season is almost underway, and from the testing results we have yet to see a clear picture emerging; there are those who say that the Mercedes is better than expected, that the Lotus is a real contender, that the Red Bull is not as impressive as expected, and so on. As always, nothing can be truly determined until the circus gets to Europe, so let’s look forward to the first race, and see who hits the ground running.