Motor racing-Force India driver decision before Abu Dhabi GP

NOIDA, India Sat Oct 29, 2011 3:15pm BST

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NOIDA, India Oct 29 (Reuters) - Force India are likely to announce their 2012 driver line-up within a week or two, the Formula One team's co-owner Vijay Mallya said on Saturday.

German driver Adrian Sutil, who could be replaced by compatriot Nico Hulkenberg alongside Britain's Paul di Resta, has asked Mallya for a quick decision.

"I made it very clear that I would decide by December. However, since I have been requested to decide earlier, I would respect that need and take an early decision," Mallya told reporters after qualifying for the inaugural Indian Grand Prix.

Asked if the announcement would come before the Nov. 11-13 race in Abu Dhabi, Mallya said: "I would expect so.

"There are three drivers and all are very much in contention. All three are top class drivers but only two can sit in the car. That's going to be a difficult one for me, I know that."

Mallya spoke highly of Hulkenberg, who raced last year for Williams and is now the Force India reserve.

"He's been very good. The fact that he was able to put Williams into pole position in Brazil last year says it all."

Mallya, also the team principal, said he was not demanding drivers bring finance with them after the Indian business conglomerate Sahara group acquired a 42.5 percent stake in the team.

"We don't need 'pay drivers'. We certainly don't want to sell a seat in the car. So the sponsorship that comes is not relevant as far as I'm concerned. We want performance," he said.

"Sahara Group has brought $100m into the team. Obviously their expectation, and mine as well, is that the money would be judiciously used to improve the performance of the team."

(Editing by Mark Meadows; To query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com)

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