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By Alan Baldwin
SILVERSTONE, England, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Force India presented their new Formula One car on Friday with only one driver, Britain's Paul Di Resta, in attendance and mystery surrounding the identity of his likely team mate.
After McLaren had unveiled their MP4-28 car on Thursday with technical director Paddy Lowe nowhere to be seen after being linked to rivals Mercedes, it was Force India's turn to continue the theme of absence.
Germany's Adrian Sutil, a former Force India driver, and Ferrari-backed Frenchman Jules Bianchi, last year's reserve, have both been linked to the vacant seat but the team provided no steer on Friday about who they favoured.
The choice ultimately is likely to favour whoever can bring most sponsorship, or other forms of backing, with them.
Instead, the car was the star - with the wraps coming off the VJM06 on a cold and damp Silverstone morning before the Mercedes-powered car was wheeled out of the garage to be fired up for the first laps by any team this year.
It immediately stood out for its 'nose job' - a 'modesty panel' turning what was a stepped nose last season into a smooth and flowing front end.
Lotus, the first of the teams to show off their new car on Monday, eschewed such cosmetic surgery on the grounds that it was only added weight but Force India technical director Andrew Green said it was there for performance as well as aesthetics.
"Our's is purely performance driven and really the performance is not on the top of the chassis, it's what you can do underneath," said technical director Andrew Green.
"And by pushing the chassis to its limits it allows us to get the aerodynamic performance. Putting the panel on top cleans up the flow over the top of the chassis. It's a small thing but to us it's important."
Di Resta, starting his third season with the team owned by Indian aviation and liquor baron Vijay Mallya, said the car looked sharp.
"It's an evolution of the car from last year," said the Scot. "It's not a completely different philosophy. But there's snall details.
"The ideal thing is to get it on track, see what it's all about and then slowly and surely get us through our test objectives." (Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Tom Pilcher)