The German Formula One driver Nico Hülkenberg has signed a multiyear deal with Sahara Force India. The 26-year-old returns to the team after a strong second half to the 2013 season with the Swiss outfit Sauber.
On Tuesday, the Sahara Force India team announced on its website that Nico Hülkenberg would rejoin the team in 2014 after signing a multiyear deal, without specifying the contract's length.
Hülkenberg drove for the business mogul and politician Vijay Mallya's Silverstone-based outfit in the 2011 and 2012 seasons, albeit as a test driver in 2011. An impressive drive to fourth position at Spa Francorchamps in 2012 was among his best outings with the Indian team, along with the 2012 season finale at Interlagos, where he led much of the race, only to finish fifth after a collision with Lewis Hamilton.
"I'm delighted to see Nico back with Sahara Force India," Mallya said on the team's website. "When he drove for us in 2012, it became clear Nico was an exceptional talent and he has continued to impress everyone in the paddock with his strong performances this season."
"The team is aiming high for next year and I believe that the experience I have gained over the years will help us achieve those goals," Hülkenberg said.
The team said its full driver lineup "will be announced in due course," amid talk that both its 2013 racers - Paul di Resta and Germany's Adrian Sutil - might face the chop. With Hülkenberg's arrival, at least one of them will lose their race seat at the team.
'Genuinely believe we can have competitive package'
Hülkenberg's 2013 team, Sauber, started the season slowly. The Hinwil-based outfit improved during the year, most notably starting with an upgrade package bolted on at Round 10 in Hungary. Hülkenberg finished the season with 44 points, 10th overall and light years clear of his teammate Esteban Gutierrez.
An impressive driver in mediocre machinery throughout his career, the 26-year-old scored points in six of the last eight races of the season.
"Hülkenberg rejoins Force India with a multi-year deal. Excellent. The world hasn't gone daft after all," motor sports journalist Maurice Hamilton wrote on Twitter shortly after the agreement was confirmed.
Hülkenberg's return to Force India comes as F1 prepares to make major changes to its engine regulations for the first time in about a decade. The sport will start using smaller, turbocharged motors. It's a difficult period for "customer" teams like Force India, who will purchase the new package provided by Mercedes next season.
"I genuinely believe we can have a competitive package in 2014. I've heard a lot of positive things about the Mercedes engine as well, so I think there's a lot to be excited about for next year," Hülkenberg said.
msh/mkg (AFP, AP, Reuters)