Adrian Sutil’s return to Sahara Force India has finally been confirmed by the team after the German got the verdict over Jules Bianchi.
The news comes just two weeks before the Australian GP weekend kicks off.
Sutil first joined the team as a test driver in 2006 when it was still Midland, and made his race debut – when the cars ran under the Spyker name – the following year.
The 30-year-old has not raced since the 2011 Brazilian GP, but returned to the cockpit with his former team at the recent Barcelona test.
“I’m delighted to be back in Formula One, especially with a team I know so well,” said Sutil. “I’m very happy and I want to thank Sahara Force India for giving me a second chance. Having been away from the sport, I’m even more determined to achieve my goals in Formula One.
“Things went really well at the Barcelona test last week and it almost feels as though I’ve never been away. Driving the car felt so natural and I was able to get back in the groove quickly and find the limit. Now my focus is on making the most of the final test session this week, working with the team in the simulator and getting myself in the best possible shape for Melbourne.”
Force India was faced with a change of plan late last year after it lost Nico Hulkenberg, who had been expected to stay in 2013, to rivals Sauber.
The decision on his replacement has taken so long in part because the team’s shareholders were juggling the long term commercial implications of each driver choice, with key among them the engine (and gearbox) deal for 2014. Bianchi is of course contracted to Ferrari.
Bianchi’s manager Nicolas Todt told Reuters yesterday: “It’s a big disappointment. I am a very realistic person but I was very hopeful he would get this drive.”