Nico Hulkenberg has agreed to a two-year contract extension with Force India in a move to secure his long-term future in Formula 1.
The German had been linked with a potential switch to Ferrari and was considered a more favoured candidate for the incoming Haas F1 team. However, Hulkenberg has instead committed his future with the Silverstone-based squad for both the 2016 and 2017 seasons.
Hulkenberg, who also claimed a historic victory with Porsche at Le Mans 24 Hours in June, says his decision to stay with Force India is based upon the improvements made since he returned to the team in 2014 and is optimistic for the future.
“I'm very pleased to finalise and announce my plans for the future,” Hulkenberg said. “I know this team inside out and I feel at home here so it made perfect sense to make a long-term commitment.
“The progress the team has shown over the last two years has really impressed me and gives me confidence for the future. It's a great group of people who are hungry for success and want to keep improving year-on-year.
“I think we have the important things in place going forward and I want to continue growing with this team as we move even further up the grid.”
Hulkenberg made his debut in Formula 1 in 2010 with Williams before moving to Force India as test driver in 2011. The German driver impressed team principal Vijay Mallya enough to be rewarded with a race seat for 2012 and after a solid debut season switched to Sauber for 2013.
The 28-year-old returned to Force India in 2014 and with his new deal extends his time with the squad to four consecutive seasons.
“I make no secret of being one of Nico's biggest fans and so it's fantastic to confirm him as our driver for the next couple of seasons," Mallya said. "He has spent almost four years with us already and in that time we've seen him develop into one of the best racing drivers in the world.
"Nico has the speed, the technical knowledge and the maturity to help us achieve some great results in the years ahead. We will do everything we can to continue delivering a car to match his talent."
Hulkenberg's confirmation removes one of the driver market's biggest question marks, with Jean-Eric Vergne and Esteban Gutierrez now arguably emerging as the most likely candidates to join Haas for its inaugural F1 season.