Force India has chosen Adrian Sutil as one of its main drivers for the new Formula One season over Jules Bianchi, the French rookie's agent told AFP on Wednesday, signalling a return for the German after a 12-month absence.
Nicolas Todt, whose father Jean is the head of world motorsport's governing body the FIA, confirmed the appointment but said he did not know whether British-based Force India would retain Bianchi as a reserve in 2013.
Sutil, 30, drove for Spyker then Force India from 2007 to 2011. He competed in 90 grands prix and achieved a best fourth-place finish at the Italian GP in Monza in 2009.
But he lost his place last season after a conviction for assaulting the co-owner of the Lotus team, Eric Lux, in a Shanghai bar after the 2011 Chinese GP.
Bianchi, 23, was reserve driver for Force India last year and in early February recorded the third best overall time during testing at Jerez in Spain, despite only completing about 50 laps on the final day.
Germany's Nico Hulkenberg drove alongside Scotland's Paul di Resta last season. Hulkenberg has since left for Sauber but di Resta has been retained.