As widely expected, Sauber has confirmed the signing of Nico Hulkenberg for the 2013 season.
The 25-year-old becomes the first driver to be confirmed by the Swiss team for next year as he switches from Force India, where he has enjoyed a solid return to racing action in 2012 after a year on the sidelines in test and reserve role.
News that the German will make the move comes as little surprise, with paddock rumours suggesting a deal was on the cards from the moment Hulkenberg missed out on the chance to move to Ferrari as a replacement for Felipe Massa.
Hulkenberg becomes the first driver confirmed with Sauber for 2013 with the team revealing it will make the announcement on his team-mate at a later date.
Test driver Esteban Gutierrez is hotly tipped to move into a race seat in a move that would leave current driver Kamui Kobayashi to explore his options elsewhere.
“I'm really looking forward to working with the Sauber F1 Team,” Hulkenberg said. “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 team principal Monisha Kaltenborn said Hulkenberg was a driver the team had been keen on for some time and one she was sure would fit in when he makes the switch.
“We've been observing Nico for some time now and his performances have been very persuasive,” she said. “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.”