Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernley says that the team has to be "ahead of the game" when it comes to selecting drivers.

13229 - Force India 'ahead of the game' - Fernley

The team promoted Friday driver Paul di Resta to a race seat last season, and have done the same to partner him with Nico Hulkenberg this year. Speaking exclusively to ESPNF1 Fernley said that the team has to make sure it doesn't lose its driver pairing prematurely, but admitted that at some stage he expected them to move on to bigger teams.

"The first thing is that we've got to have strong contracts," Fernley said when asked how it would keep hold of di Resta if Mercedes came calling. "But you have to be realistic as a team, especially as Force India, and if Paul or Nico came to us at the end of 2012 or 2013 and said 'I've been offered a drive at Ferrari, Red Bull or McLaren', how are you going to get in their way? You're going to have to release them.

"Obviously there would be financial discussions in that, but the whole point of Force India is to identify young drivers as they come through. We won't be able to afford Paul or Nico in years to come so we've got to be ahead of the game, and that's what we've done."

Fernley said that his belief the drivers would move on was due to the fact that he thought both could be world champions in the future.

"I believe that they are potentially both championship material - I am really excited about them both. Even the top four teams, pretty much across the board in those, you've got drivers that are coming towards the end of their career. Obviously they have great experience and stabilise the team, but we've got two youngsters that are charging forwards."