The Brit, who is currently racing in GP2, drove for the Silverstone based squad at the Young Driver Test earlier in the year. He impressed, sparking speculation that he would join then in the vacant third driver role.
Vijay Mallya, Force India team principal, confirmed the news in a team statement, saying: “I’m pleased to confirm that we’ve signed James as our third driver. We worked with him during the Silverstone test and he impressed everyone with his speed and consistency. We’ve always tried to support young drivers and this is a great opportunity for James to gain some valuable experience of driving during Formula One race events.”
Mallya also confirmed that this will not be Calado’s only chance to get behind the wheel of the teams 2013 car: “James will take part in the opening free practice session on Friday. He will also run in practice at several other races this year. It’s always useful to get another driver’s feedback on the car and it will help us evaluate James.”
Meanwhile race driver Paul Di Resta feels that some of the issues suffered by the team are now resolved: “I feel we’ve certainly solved some of the issues we had in Hungary, but it’s also apparent that some teams have caught up with us, and I don’t think we’ve got the advantage that we had before. It’s going to be a fight all the way, especially with teams like McLaren taking a step forward, and it will be an interesting end to the year. We need to keep optimising the car and we’ve still got a bit more potential to unleash from the tyre situation.”
He qualified fourth for the 2012 Italian Grand Prix but started ninth after a five-place grid penalty. The Scot admitted that the team’s strong form in previous years around the Monza circuit is encouraging: “I’d like to say we can be competitive, but we have to see how it is when we get there on Friday morning. We had a very good qualifying session last year and we ended up fourth fastest so that’s a good sign for this year.”
Team-mate Adrian Sutil is expecting good things to come from this weekend, saying: “The car is very efficient and we showed good top speed in Spa, so I expect the same this weekend. We are usually quick at Monza and I remember Paul qualified well last year. Also, it’s the track where I got my best result in Formula One in 2009 so historically it’s one of our best tracks.”
Force India currently sits sixth in the constructors standings after being overtaken by McLaren after the Belgian Grand Prix.
Image courtesy of Sahara Force India F1 Team