8 July 2013
German Grand Prix: Hulkenberg scores, remains coy on contract rumours
Nico Hulkenberg refuses to comment on rumours that he has ended his contract with Sauber, but put himself in the shop window with another hard-earned point for the Swiss team at the Nurburgring.
Nico Hulkenberg dragged his Sauber into the points for the second grand prix in as many weeks, but his future with the team remains in doubt amid claims that he has not been paid for recent races.
The German refused to discuss his situation after finishing tenth in his home grand prix, but it has been suggested that he no longer has a contract with Sauber, and is a free agent looking to move on as and when an opportunity arises.
The move to Sauber was seen as a stepping stone on the way to a potential Ferrari drive, perhaps as early as 2014, but Hulkenberg's decision to quit Force India has looked increasingly poor, as the Silverstone team has been a regular pointscorer while Sauber – which netted four podium finishes in 2012 – has struggled to breach the top ten. Ironically, Hulkenberg beat both Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil at the Nurburgring, but Sauber trails its midfield rival by a massive 52 points after nine rounds of the 2013 campaign.
While driving an uncompetitive car is painful enough for the young star, not being paid for the 'privilege' has now made his position close to untenable, although Hulkenberg – who is rumoured to have terminated his agreement for breach of contract - will only say that he needs to look out for his future.
“Unfortunately, I can't and I won't talk about contractual details,” the 25-year old, who has apparently not been paid since May, told Germany's Sky channel, “Clearly, I need to take care of my future and nothing is impossible or excluded.”
Team principal Monisha Kaltenborn has made no secret of the team's financial struggle, but remains optimistic of bringing in an investor to steady the ship before too long, and Hulkenberg alluded to her efforts prior to the Nurburgring weekend.
“I think it's a difficult situation,” he told the media, “I think Monisha, the team and the management is working on a solution and trying to work a way out of it, to get better things. She's assured me that she's busy working on that and there's not much more I can say.”
Among the options being suggested for Hulkenberg's future are the obvious move to Ferrari and another to Lotus, although neither are likely to be possible until the end of the season. Recent rumours linking Russian investors to a rescue bid at Sauber have already mooted that Felipe Massa could move back to the Swiss team for 2014, which would open the door for Hulkenberg to move in the opposite direction, while the seat at Lotus would likely require Kimi Raikkonen to accept overtures from Red Bull for next season. Romain Grosjean's result in Germany on Sunday should secure his place in the line-up, at least until the end of the year.
Hulkenberg reminded potential suitors of his ability, even in a recalcitrant Sauber, as he claimed only his seventh point of the season on home soil.
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