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Sauber confirms Nico Hulkenberg for 2013Chris Medland October 31, 2012 « McLaren pair believe they can beat Red Bull in Abu Dhabi | Toro Rosso confirms unchanged line-up »
Sauber has confirmed the signing of Nico Hulkenberg for the 2013 season.
Hulkenberg joins from Force India on a one-year contract having missed out on a seat with Ferrari for next season. He replaces the outgoing Sergio Perez, who will join McLaren in 2013, with Sauber saying it will announce its second driver - expected to be either Esteban Gutierrez or Kamui Kobayashi - at a later date.
Hulkenberg has impressed this season after being promoted by Force India from a test role in 2011, and he said he anticipates continuing the success that has seen Sauber score four podium finishes this season.
"I'm really looking forward to working with the Sauber F1 Team," he 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. It's 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 Force India. I'd like to thank the management there for giving me the chance to return to Formula One as a team driver."
Still up in the air?
- Caterham : Neither driver confirmed
Force India: Paul di Resta expected but not confirmed, second driver open
HRT: De la Rosa contracted, second driver open
Lotus: Second driver expected to be Grosjean but not confirmed
Marussia: Glock contracted, second driver open
Sauber: Second driver open
Williams: Maldonado expected but not confirmed, second driver open
Team principal Monisha Kaltenborn said the team had been monitoring Hulkenberg's progress and was pleased to secure him for 2013.
"We've been observing Nico for some time now and his performances have been very persuasive," Kaltenborn 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."
Gutierrez remains favourite for the second seat at Sauber, but an uninspiring if solid performance in FP1 in India means he has yet to be confirmed.
"It's been a pleasure to have Nico with us for the last couple of years," said Force India boss Vijay Mallya. "At the end of 2010 we identified him as a star of the future and it has been rewarding to watch him develop his racing skills."
Chris Medland is assistant editor at ESPNF1