Amid much speculation about his future in Formula One, Force India has announced that British GP2 driver James Calado will be the team’s reserve driver. He will get his first outing with the team this weekend at the Italian Grand Prix.
Calado, 24, has been on Formula One’s radar ever since his impressive rookie season in GP2 last year. After some disappointing end-of-season races, he finished a somewhat distant fifth in the championship, just losing out to Sauber driver and then-teammate Esteban Gutierrez, but beating current Caterham driver Giedo van der Garde.
He went into the 2013 championship as the favorite for the title, but after a chassis issue was discovered early on, results were hard to come by. He still lies fifth in the championship with one win under his belt, and remains within striking distance of the title.
Additionally, a very impressive outing in this summer’s Young Driver Test at Silverstone cemented Calado’s place on Formula One teams’ radars.
Force India has also had a good record with third drivers. Paul di Resta was third driver in 2010 before getting the call up to a race seat the next season. In 2011, Nico Hulkenberg also spent time on the sidelines. He was called up to a race seat last season before moving to Sauber for 2013.
Additionally, Marussia driver Jules Bianchi was a reserve driver for Force India last season before getting the call up to the back marker with the help of his Ferrari connections.
James is regarded as the most promising British racing talent for the immediate future, so the pressure is on for him to impress the team in the second half of the season, while also doing his best to secure the GP2 crown.
If the latter is achieved, then he will have done all he can do to show Force India he is worthy of a race seat. Speculations that Adrian Sutil is considering other options in the Formula One field further fuel the fire that Calado could be set for a race seat in 2014.
For now, Calado must focus on the weekend ahead. A practice outing in an F1 car as well as the GP2 race weekend means there is a lot on his plate, but that could be a blessing in disguise when it comes to next season.