Feb 27 2013
Adrian Sutil is expected to return to Force India on Thursday 15 months after being axed by the team.
The Silverstone-based marque have spent several weeks deliberating as to who should partner Paul di Resta for the forthcoming campaign.
Ultimately, it came down to Sutil and the team's reserve driver Jules Bianchi, with the 30-year-old German set to be given the nod. Although their overall performance was naturally considered, with the duo both in the car for a day last week during the second pre-season test in Barcelona, it is understood money has played a pivotal role.
The Force India board are believed to have weighed up the package on the table from Sutil against that which Bianchi could have brought to the team given he is a member of Ferrari's young driver academy and a possible future engine deal with the Maranello marque.
With Sutil to compete for the first time since 2011, when he was shown the door by co-owner and team principal Vijay Mallya after four years with the team - and five overall in F1 - it appears Mercedes powerplants will be retained. The decision is a crucial one considering the change in engine regulations for next year when 1.6-litre turbo-charged V6 units replace the 2.4-litre V8s.
In rehiring Sutil, Force India will also have had to ensure there are no legal issues - he has a suspended sentence hanging over him.
A year ago Sutil was convicted of grievous bodily harm for assaulting Lotus executive Eric Lux with a champagne glass during an incident in a Shanghai nightclub after the 2011 Chinese Grand Prix.
A German court handed Sutil an 18-month suspended sentence and a £167,000 fine, a ruling Force India claimed at the time in no way influenced their decision to part company with him.
That would have raised the question as to whether Sutil can enter countries where visas are an issue such as Australia, China, Canada, India and the United States, with entry potentially being refused.
But with all obstacles removed, Sutil is poised to now join Di Resta at the final four-day pre-season test due to start on Thursday at the Circuit de Catalunya, with the opening grand prix in Australia now just 18 days away.