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Force India to announce drivers in December 12 Dec 2007

Ralf Schumacher (GER) Force India F1. Formula One Testing, Day Three, Jerez, Spain, Thursday, 6 December 2007. World © Hartley/Sutton Colin Kolles (GER) Force India Team Principal, Dr. Vijay Mallya (IND) and Ralf Schumacher (GER) Force India Formula One Testing, Day One, Jerez, Spain, 04 December 2007. World © Patching/Sutton Christian Klien (AUT) Force India F1. Formula One Testing, Day Two, Jerez, Spain, Wednesday, 5 December 2007. World © Hartley/Sutton

Force India plan to confirm their 2008 driver line-up at the end of this month, co-owner Vijay Mallya has revealed. Adrian Sutil, who raced for the former Spyker team in 2007, is expected to retain his seat, but there are a plethora of potential candidates for the team’s second cockpit.

At the recent Barcelona and Jerez tests Force India invited several established Formula One drivers to try out their car, including Christian Klien, Vitantonio Liuzzi, Ralf Schumacher and Giancarlo Fisichella. Mallya freely admits it was designed as a shoot-out – and one that has left him with some tough questions to answer.

“It will be a very difficult decision that I have to make,” he told Formula1.com. “All of them are very good - they would all bring different strengths to the team. Clearly we have Sutil on the one side and I need to make sure that the driver in the other car is able to raise the bar, so that both drivers keep raising the standard of performance all the time and help the engineering team along."

Mallya stressed that Force India are not interested in looking for ‘pay drivers’ who bring funds but little experience to the team. His criteria for driver selection are instead focused on the squad’s long-term future.

“In the past the team was looking for money, so money was the prime motivating factor for the driver line-up,” he said. “Now that has changed. For me the prime factors are performance and the ability to give feedback to the engineers.”

Asked when Force India would make a driver announcement, Mallya added: “At the end of December. I want to think very clearly about who will sit in the second cockpit. It is a very important decision for me and the team and I do not want to jump into anything. I will evaluate all the facts and then make my move.”