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McLaren likely to recommend drivers to Force India

Alan Baldwin | November 11, 2008 12:17 IST

Force India's driver line-up could change now that a five-year deal with McLaren and Mercedes is in place, team boss Vijay Mallya [Images] hinted Monday.

"They (McLaren) will recommend what they believe to be in the best interests of my team and I have to decide. And I would be hard pressed to ignore their advice," he told Reuters at the team's Silverstone factory.

"The first thing is building the car. If we don't have a car then there's no point having a driver...It's already pushing the envelope a little bit, so we need to focus on the car. The driver comes next and we will have these conversations.

Mallya reiterated that the team does not intend "at present" to change the line-up of Italian Giancarlo Fisichella and Germany's [Images] Adrian Sutil. However he did not rule out other candidates being tested.

McLaren and Mercedes have several drivers on their books, including 22-year-old Scot Paul di Resta and experienced Spanish test driver Pedro de la Rosa, and there has been considerable speculation about their prospects of appearing in a Force India car.

"I haven't gone into any details on drivers yet," said Mallya, who in the past week has ousted former team principal Colin Kolles and technical head Mike Gascoyne while also terminating Force India's supply of Ferrari [Images] engines.

"I have taken some very hard decisions in the last week for this team. My interest is this team and it has to go where I want it to go.

"I am going to do whatever it takes. There are no emotions involved."

The new partners are providing Force India with a complete drivetrain (engine and gearbox) as well as KERS (kinetic energy recovery system).

In addition, Simon Roberts is moving from McLaren Applied Technologies to become Force India's chief operating officer.

"There's nothing off-bounds in this partnership," said McLaren chief executive Martin Whitmarsh when asked about drivers.

"We will make proposals and recommendations that we think are enhancing the prospect of good performance from this team.

"I suspect he (Mallya) has some staggering business commitments outside of Formula One and he would expect us, as specialists and professionals in this field, to be making all of the recommendations that are necessary to ensure that we go forward."

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