24 November 2013
Brazilian Grand Prix: Hulkenberg deal done?
Nico Hulkenberg has signed the deal that will keep him in F1 next season, according to sources in his homeland.
The German media is convinced that Nico Hulkenberg has finally put pen to paper for 2014, but not necessarily where the paddock expects him to be.
According to claims from Auto Motor und Sport on Saturday evening in Interlagos, Hulkenberg appears to have grown tired of the uncertainty surrounding a possible deal between Lotus and Quantum Motorsports and re-signed with Force India, the team he left for Sauber at the end of last season.
Hulkenberg, who has impressed in a series of late-season drives for an improved Sauber team, was seen as the first choice as replacement for Ferrari-bound Kimi Raikkonen, but does not have the backing of rivals such as Pastor Maldonado. Should the Quantum deal finally deliver on so far empty promises, the German would have been the preferred option of the investor, but the longer it takes for money to appear in Lotus' account, the more outsiders begin to doubt the validity of the relationship.
As such, it appears that Hulkenberg, fearing for his F1 future if he does not agree a deal, has jumped at the opportunity to rejoin Force India, even though Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn recently hinted that he would be welcome to stay at Hinwil next season.
An official announcement of the deal – which, according to the reports, is for one year 'plus options' – could come in the days or hours after Sunday's F1 finale in Brazil.
Hulkenberg's return will cast greater doubt on the future of Paul di Resta, who would appear to be the odd man out at Force India, especially as current team-mate Adrian Sutil appears convinced that he is going to stay on for another year. Other sources claim, however, that Sutil could be on the move, possibly to Sauber, with Sergio Perez being linked to Vijay Mallya's team. di Resta could shed no light on his future when interviewed by Sky Sports after qualifying, but insisted that, even if he was forced to take a year out in 2014, he was intent on being an F1 driver into the future.
Maldonado and his millions, meanwhile, have been linked to both Force India and Sauber for 2014, should he not land the Lotus seat that many expect to come his way.
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