As Force India debate who will take their second seat, Bob Fernley admits they wanted Jules Bianchi to spend another year as a test driver.
When Force India unveiled their 2013 car, the VJM06, on Friday the team refused to announce who would partner Paul di Resta this season.
The midfield outfit is believed to be deciding between test driver Bianchi and former driver Adrian Sutil.
However, Fernley admits he would rather have kept Bianchi as a test driver for another season, which was the plan before Nico Hulkenberg signed with Sauber.
"The idea of the Nico/Paul partnership not continuing into 2013 wasn't our plan," Fernley told Autosport. "Obviously it slightly de-railed our programme.
"If we'd had an ideal world we'd have liked to run Jules for two years as a third driver.
"Is Jules ready to go into a primary seat? Yes, he is. Absolutely. But we've just got to make sure we tick all the boxes now."
He added: "We have all these long-term plans and we want to make sure the decisions we take are the right ones. And we don't have to rush those decisions."
The deputy team principal ruled out holding a shoot-out between the candidates during the upcoming pre-season tests.
"We've got a number of people pooled that we want to look at for the primary drive, and a couple of people that we want to look at for the third driver programme," he said.
"We don't need to evaluate the people we're looking at - we'll make the decision and they'll go straight into the programme.
"As long as the baseline work is done and we can bring the second and third driver in for Barcelona [on February 19], they're going to be competitive straight away."