Tonio lost his seat at Red Bull to Christian Klein in 2006, bumped down to the b-squad at Scuderia Toro Rosso only to be replaced two years later by multiple Champ Car champ Sebastien Bourdais. After settling for a test role with Force India in 2008, he was promoted to the race seat for the subsequent two seasons, and has now been replaced by another young gun.
For the 2011 Formula One season, Force India has confirmed Paul di Resta as its race driver alongside returning pilot Adrian Sutil. Di Resta spent last season in F1 as a test driver himself for Force India, all the while locking up the DTM championship in Germany to add to his pair of Formula 3 series titles.
The announcement confirms two of the last race seats that were up for grabs for the upcoming season, leaving only one position open at the upstart Hispania Racing Team alongside Narain Karthikeyan (who in turn replaced Bruno Senna). So did Liuzzi get relegated back to the test driver job for the upcoming season? Not even: that job went to the aforementioned Nico Hulkenberg. It's a cutthroat business, Formula 1 racing. Follow the jump for the official announcement.
[Source: Force India]
The Force India F1 Team is delighted to confirm it has finalised its driver line-up for the 2011 FIA Formula One World Championship season. Following weeks of speculation, Adrian Sutil will continue with the Silverstone-based team for a fifth consecutive season and will be joined by Paul di Resta, who will make his Formula One race debut. Nico Hülkenberg will join Force India as the test and reserve driver as part of a long-term partnership with the team
Twenty-seven year old Adrian, from south Germany, enjoyed his most successful season in F1 last year, securing 47 points to help the team to seventh position in the constructors' championship. En route to his highest-ever drivers' championship classification he notched up nine points scoring positions, including fifth in the Malaysian Grand Prix. He is now hungry to achieve both his, and the team's, ultimate goal of becoming a regular podium challenger.
2011 marks Paul's F1 race debut following a strong year of Friday performances as Force India's test and reserve driver last season and his recent DTM title success. The 24-year-old Scot joined the team after an impressive test in late 2009 and participated in eight free practice sessions in 2010 to get up to speed with the challenges of F1 circuits. This invaluable experience will now be put to full use when he makes his race debut.
German Nico Hülkenberg, 23, completes the Force India F1 Team's driver line-up for the 2011 season. Nico's strong performances in the junior formulae and his impressive rookie form in last year's F1 championship, including a sensational pole position in Brazil, marked him out as a star of the future and the team was delighted to secure his services as test and reserve driver.
Dr Vijay Mallya, chairman and team principal of Force India F1 Team, 'I am genuinely excited by the drivers we will be fielding in 2011. I believe that the combination of talent we've assembled gives us one of the strongest line-ups on the grid: Adrian has matured into one of F1's most consistent and highly-rated young drivers, while Paul is, I believe, a real star of the future. He has won in every category in his career and this base speed was in evidence when he got in the car on Fridays last year. With Nico, signing him was too good an opportunity to let by. He showed a good racing head and talent and I was amazed by his control in Brazil last year. Together I think they are a formidable partnership and will help take us to the next level of performance.'
Adrian Sutil commented, 'I made my F1 debut with the team back in 2007 and we've worked together since then, so to stay for another year here feels very right. I've always said that I feel good in this team, it feels like family and when you feel good, you are confident and can push to your maximum. We've made some good progress together over the past four years and I'm excited to be part of the the team when it takes the next step, which is hopefully to become a front running team. We have the same ambitions so it makes a lot of sense to achieve them together.'
Paul di Resta added, 'Naturally I am thrilled to be making my race debut this season. Becoming an F1 driver has been a long-held ambition of mine, something I've wanted to do since I first stepped into a kart, and to finally realise it feels amazing. I've worked really hard for this opportunity throughout my career and to get it with Force India, a young team that's got ambitions as big as mine, is genuinely exciting. I can't wait to be on the grid in Bahrain, it can't come soon enough.'
Nico Hülkenberg said, 'I am happy I can stay in F1 in 2011. I am looking forward to working with Force India and I am sure the team will continue improving in the future. I appreciate the team trusting me by signing a long-term contract. I will do my very best to live up to expectations.'