Nico Hulkenberg has been confirmed as a Force India F1 driver in 2014.
After a trying year with Sauber in 2013, Hulkenberg has elected to come back to his former team in a bid to give his career a much needed boost as he continues to search for the top drive he deserves.
At Sauber, Hulkenberg was thrown into an unknown team with an uncompetitive car. Nevertheless, he made the most of the situation, scoring three times before the summer break. When racing resumed at the end of August, the Sauber was almost a completely new car with a substantial upgrade introduced just before the break finally paying dividends.
In Italy, the young German qualified third and finished fifth, with further outstanding performances in Korea, Japan and Austin helping him to 10th in the final standings.
Hulkenberg was Lotus‘s first choice as Kimi Raikkonen‘s replacement, but with the team’s deal with Quantum Motorsports finally withering in the past weeks, his chances of landing a drive there disappeared. This left him with the option of either staying with Sauber, where the relationship deteriorated late in the season due to their own money issues, or going to Force India, where both Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta looked unlikely to remain.
Choosing the latter is probably the better option. Financial struggles at the Silverstone-based team are less severe, and their potential to move up the grid is seen as better than Sauber’s. However, with the major regulation changes expected to shake up the pecking order, there is no telling where Force India will be next year.
The second seat at Force India is yet to be confirmed, but it is expected that Mclaren refugee Sergio Perez will fill the vacant seat. His substantial TelMex sponsorship will come in handy at a team struggling with finances. Sutil is said to have already finalized a deal to race at Sauber, while di Resta looks set to perhaps race in Indycar in his cousin Dario Franchitti‘s empty seat, or even DTM, where he won the 2010 title before making his F1 debut in 2011.