Having denied it was a done deal mere hours ago, Adrian Sutil’s manager now sounds certain the 30-year-old has secured a Force India race seat for 2013.
‘It looks like it has worked out,’ Manfred Zimmermann told the Kolner Express newspaper.
‘I’ve heard that Nicolas Todt told French reporters that Jules Bianchi is out of the race,’ 30-year-old Sutil’s manager added.
‘We still have to wait for the official confirmation of the team,’ Zimmermann said.
Indeed, Todt – rookie Bianchi’s manager – told multiple media sources late on Wednesday that his 23-year-old charge had been beaten to the Force India seat by Sutil.
‘It’s a big disappointment,’ Todt, whose father is the FIA president Jean Todt, is quoted by Reuters.
‘I am a very realistic person but I was very hopeful he would get this drive.’
Some reports say Bianchi could now be in the running for the second Marussia seat, with Brazilian Luiz Razia left out of the team’s recent Barcelona test due to reported sponsorship problems.
Todt said: ‘We are looking around in F1 but there are very few options.’
British broadcaster Sky‘s race commentator David Croft said Bianchi will remain Force India’s reserve driver this year.
But RMC Sport – one of the French outlets who spoke directly to Nicolas Todt on Wednesday – said no decision has been made.