Nico Hulkenberg officially confirmed at Sauber for 2013
Months of speculation ended as Sauber confirm the German driver
Sauber have officially confirmed that Nico Hulkenberg will join the Swiss outfit for the 2013 season, ending months of speculation over the German’s future in the sport. Despite Force India assuring members of the media he was still going to remain at Force India next season, Hulkenberg will now prepare for his final three races as a Force India driver.
Nico Hulkenberg has been strongly linked to Sauber for several months now, after Sergio Perez was announced as Lewis Hamilton’s successor at McLaren. With Kamui Kobayashi’s continuation as a Sauber driver under severe scrutiny in these final few races, Hulkenberg’s team-mate has yet to be officially confirmed however speculation has gathered momentum linking Esteban Gutierrez to what would become another vacancy within the team.
Throughout Hulkenberg’s relatively short Formula 1 career, the German driver has raced for both Williams and Force India, ‘graduating’ to the top tier of motor sport after clinching the GP2 Championship back in 2009. Throughout his first year in F1, Hulkenberg secured 22 points including an unforgettable pole position at the wet/dry Brazilian Grand Prix at Sao Paulo. However, the German was replaced by Pastor Maldonado for the next season, forcing Hulkenberg to become Force India’s reserve driver.
Although Nico Hulkenberg didn’t have a full-time drive for 2011, he remained an integral part of the Silverstone-base teams line-up. During pre-season testing, Hulkenberg ran extensively at both Valencia and Barcelona, with a potential full-time drive for 2012 on the cards. This promise came true as Adrian Sutil left the outfit, which saw Nico Hulkenberg parter Paul di Resta for this season.
So far Nico Hulkenberg has achieved 49 points this season, including one fastest lap at the Singapore Grand Prix. At the Belgium Grand Prix several weeks beforehand, the 25-year-old finished an impressive 4th, one of many results which have unquestionably seen his reputation rise within the paddock. Hulkenberg remains committed to his final three races with Force India, but is understandably thrilled to be moving to an iconic team such as Sauber for next season.
“I’m really looking forward to working with the Sauber F1 Team.” Enthused Nico Hulkenberg, “It’s a well-placed team and very competitive. Plus it’s a team in which young drivers have repeatedly delivered exceptional performances. I would like to take up that baton. The Sauber F1 Team is currently going through a very positive development and I’m certain that together we can achieve a lot. Until that time I will remain fully focused on my job with the Sahara Force India Team. I’d like to thank the management at Sahara Force India for giving me the chance to return to Formula One as a team driver.”
Sauber’s new team principal, Monisha Kaltenborn, has explained how Sauber have been keeping an eye of the progress of Nico Hulkenberg for some time now. This has included the German’s progress through the GP2 feeder series, which he dominated in 2009 with five victories and ten podiums for ART Grand Prix. Kaltenborn is very much looking forward to working with Hulkenberg.
“We’ve been observing Nico for some time now and his performances have been very persuasive.” Explained Monisha Kaltenborn, “That was the case in GP2 and has continued into Formula One. An obvious highlight was how he scored pole at Interlagos in 2010 despite the most challenging external conditions. He clearly showed that he can seize the chance if it arises. But high spots like that are one thing; systematic teamwork is another – and on that score I have confidence in Nico too. I’m sure he will fit in very well with the Sauber F1 Team. We look forward to working together with him.”
With speculation now over with regards to Hulkenberg’s future in the sport, it’s unquestionable that the speculation over who the German’s team-mate will be next season will intensify greatly. With many potential candidates including Kamui Kobayashi, Esteban Gutierrez and possibly even Heikki Kovalainen, it could well be all-change at Sauber for 2013.
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