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GP Week : Issue 174
F1 >>> NEWS While intra-team harmony is something of a goal for the bulk of the F1 season, news of drivers jumping ship can drive a wedge between two competitors who have spent the bulk of the year singing each other’s praises in the name of good sportsmanship. The latest division takes place at Force India, where Paul di Resta was less than complimentary about team- mate Nico Hulkenberg’s imminent departure for Sauber, a team that has bested the Silverstone racers in the 2012 constructors’ battle thus far. “I was surprised that Nico left this team, to be fair, for an immediate competitor,” di Resta said when the news of his team- mate’s departure broke. “I don't see it as being a step up, to be perfectly honest. I see it as equal – if anything – status. I think long term, where you see this team’s going, I think it’s probably better. “They’ve had a couple of remarkable results – I’m not going to deny that – but in terms of consistency we’ve got a lot. Next year may be different, and I don’t know the full reasons why Nico’s gone there.” It is worth remembering that di Resta has not yet secured a drive for the 2013 season, despite having been mentioned as a possible replacement for both Lewis Hamilton at McLaren and Felipe Massa at Ferrari. With no top tier seats available to the Scottish driver, and options narrowing by the day, questioning Hulkenberg’s decision to move is simply good politics – Force India have the two best remaining seats on the grid. Sauber have comprehensively beaten Force India over the course of the 2012 season, and would have beaten them in 2011 had the development budget not dried up early in the summer. Di Resta’s comments about the relative consistency of the two teams are entirely accurate: Sauber saw nine retirements in the first 16 races of the season, yet still led Force India by 23 points going into Abu Dhabi despite the Silverstone outfit’s two retirements. The Swiss racers have seen 14 points finishes, including two podia, while Force India finished in the points 17 times with two P4s their best results. But while there is a lot to be said for the old maxim ‘to finish first, first you have to finish’ – the adage applies wherever you might be in the points – over the past two years Sauber have shown themselves to be a team capable of fighting at the front, of gifting their drivers with a car that gives them the opportunity to audition for top tier seats, while Force India have long struggled to be anything other than consistent mid-field contenders. DI RESTA SLAMS HULKENBERG’S MOVE 5 GPWEEK.com // 5 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: