Winter testing is set to continue at Jerez next week and Force India, formerly Spyker, has confirmed that Giancarlo Fisichella and Ralf Schumacher will be part of its evaluation programme. The team is very busy assessing drivers as former Toyota tester Franck Monatgny is another hopeful and Christian Klien and Tonio Liuzzi, who tried out at the first winter test recently, will also be back.
Schumacher parted company with Toyota at the end of the season and has, obviously, been looking for another seat but Fisichella was a bit of an unknown quantity. The Italian was hopeful of staying with Renault but that seems to depend on Fernando Alonso's plans, although the Spaniard doesn't seem in a hurry to reveal his future.
It's not confirmed that this test means Fisichella is out of luck with Renault but letting him test for another team appears to be a good indicator that the French squad is looking elsewhere. "Whilst no drivers have been officially confirmed by Renault, the team has given me permission to explore other options," said Fisichella. "I was invited to test with Force India F1 Team at Jerez and I was very happy to accept it."
Schumacher, meanwhile, has known Force India's Vijay Mallya for many years. "For any driver, driving for a young dynamic team with high ambitions is a good opportunity, but at the moment it is just one test to see how we get on working together, and whether this is possible," said the German. "I think I can help the team with its development programme but we will see."
Along with those two, Frenchman Montagny will be vying for space in the Force India cockpit at the test. Montagny also knows Mallya from his time at Toyota. "Towards the end of the year we talked about the future and I heard about the possibility of testing with Force India," he said. "Of course I was very tempted as I am sure that with the new owners, the team will be very strong."
Usual Force India test drivers Roldan Rodriguez and Giedo van der Garde will also be on duty so, not forgetting Klien and Liuzzi, the team will have a total of seven drivers in two Spyker B-spec F8-VII cars over four days. At the end of it all it will be interesting to see if the team decides to go for experience or youth to partner Adrian Sutil next year -- presuming Sutil stays, which currently it looks like he will.