Nico Hulkenberg insists that he has no reason to feel sorry for fellow countryman Adrian Sutil
after replacing him as team-mate to Paul di Resta at Force India
F1 next season.
The three drivers vied for the two available seats at the Silverstone team until principal Vijay Mallya finally made a decision over his line-up for 2012, confirming Hulkenberg's graduation from reserve to race driver shortly before Christmas. The announcement heralded Sutil's exit from a squad he has represented since being signed by predecessor Midland F1, and leaves the rapid German battling to secure one of two remaining vacancies - at Williams
and HRT - if he is to remain on the grid next year.
Although he has been, somewhat unexpectedly, linked with Ferrari
[see story here
], Sutil is most likely to wind up at Williams, where he has been a visitor in recent weeks. Hulkenberg, who was ousted from the Grove squad's line-up in favour of Pastor Maldonado
in 2011, maintains that he and Sutil remain on amicable terms despite his elevation to the Force India
race seat, and expects to be facing off against the older German next year.
“I have known Adrian for a long time, but we didn't talk about the situation," he revealed to Sport1.de
, "He has been fully focused on his own side, which I thought was very professional. It's not as though he is angry with me. [F1] is very brutal, but I don't feel sorry for him as I'm assuming that he will get a cockpit.”
Hulkenberg's confirmation as race driver for 2012 was widely expected given that his decision to sign up for a reserve role was thought to have been influenced by the guarantee of promotion, but he admits that he still had to wait before he could be confident of partnering di Resta.
“The concern was there," he revealed when asked whether he thought a pay driver could gazump both himself and Sutil, “but I had spoken throughout the year with the team and knew what their plans were and how they wanted to develop.”
GP2 frontrunner - and current Ferrari
protégé - Jules Bianchi
is being tipped to fill Hulkenberg's role as reserve at Force India