Nico Hulkenberg joins Sauber for 2013

2013 F1 season

Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, Singapore, 2012Nico Hulkenberg will move to Sauber for 2013, the team has confirmed.

It will be the third team Hulkenberg has raced for in as many seasons. He arrived in F1 with Williams in 2010 but was replaced at the team by Pastor Maldonado the following year.

He spent 2011 as a test driver for Force India before joining their race team this year.

“I?m really looking forward to working with the Sauber F1 Team,” said Hulkenberg. “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: “We?ve been observing Nico for some time now and his performances have been very persuasive. 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 ?ǣ 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.”

Sauber added the team’s second driver for 2013 would be confirmed “at a later date”.

Sergio Perez is already known to be leaving the team for McLaren. Kamui Kobayashi’s seat is believed to be under threat, with reserve driver Esteban Gutierrez tipped as a replacement.

Force India team principal Vijay Mallya said it had been “a pleasure” to work with Hulkenberg this year.

“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,” he said.

“Together with Paul he has done a brilliant job for us, helping the team score more points than ever before and giving 100% commitment every weekend. We would like to thank him for all his hard work and wish him well for the future. With three races remaining this season, we know Nico will remain totally committed and continue to deliver his best performances for the team.”

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124 comments on Nico Hulkenberg joins Sauber for 2013

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  1. raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 31st October 2012, 9:09

    50 quid says Hulkenberg will take a victory in the 2013 Sauber

    • Chris (@tophercheese21) said on 31st October 2012, 9:46

      If i had 50 quid, then i would take you up on that offer!
      Only because Paul Hembrey reckons that the 2013 spec Pirelli tyres will have a larger operating window than the current spec.
      Resulting in the top teams finding it easier to get them going for qualifying and the race.

      Would love to see a Sauber get a victory though, hopefully it will come for Perez this season.

      • raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 31st October 2012, 10:28

        @tophercheese21 I actually think this year’s Sauber is a fundamentally good design, rather than them sort of “getting lucky” on the tyres. I don’t think their 2013 will be as successful as 2012 – because the tyre mixups have helped them. But I think they are still a contender on pace.

        I have this nagging feeling in my head that if Hulkenberg was in Sauber 2012, he would’ve won Malaysia… but hey that’s me.

        • Bob (@bobthevulcan) said on 31st October 2012, 11:59

          @raymondu999 – The Sauber is probably the 5th best car this year, so winning 4 podiums is an impressive tally. I believe several team principals praised its aerodynamics among other things. If they can keep their momentum going into next year, and you may just find yourself 50 quid richer!

          • Aerodynamically, the car is up there with Lotus and McLaren, and of course, the Bulls, I think.

          • raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 31st October 2012, 14:54

            @bobthevulcan ah – but you see, the pecking order has been all over the place this year. It’s the 5th best car ON BALANCE – not the 5th outright best. There are times when it’s 7th/8th best, there are times when it’s the 2nd best, and there have been times when it’s been the best.

          • raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 1st November 2012, 6:43

            @bobthevulcan btw – rare that a Vulcan misses that logic. Or is named Bob, for that matter :P

          • Bob (@bobthevulcan) said on 1st November 2012, 8:37

            @raymondu999 – “Humour… it is a difficult concept”. Also, something about Vulcan names being unpronounceable by humans.

            But I do agree with your assessment of the Sauber. The key is consistency, having a package that is always competitive. Sauber already have a good base on which to work on in the form of the C31, so with the (hopefully) improved C32, Hulkenberg victories shouldn’t be that far fetched.

      • DaveD (@daved) said on 1st November 2012, 1:41

        I hope you’re right! I think McLaren made a mistake to take Perez instead of the Hulk, but at least he’s getting a chance for a better ride with Sauber next year.

  2. Girts (@girts) said on 31st October 2012, 9:10

    I would like to see what he’s capable of in a top car but let’s hope that Sauber at least will give him the opportunity to fight for occasional podiums next year.

  3. He’s definitely going to Ferrari in 2014. Money on it.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 31st October 2012, 9:22

      @rits It’s a theory that fits nicely: stick him in their ‘young driver’ team, he’ll have three years’ experience by the end of 2013.

      If that is how things are going to work out, it’s a pity they won’t put him in the car for next year. I’m sure he’d do a better job than Massa.

      • spartacus (@spartacus) said on 31st October 2012, 10:19

        Massa is doing much better now, think he will be in the points this season and next

        • If Massa gets a few podiums and a couple wins next year, he might still stay on. He fits nicely with the team and has been there forever. They wouldn’t want to lose him if he really starts to deliver. He’s improved a lot over the last few races. But yes, they’re preparing Hulkenberg for it, there’s no question in my mind about that, esp after Perez was lost to McLaren.

      • beneboy (@beneboy) said on 31st October 2012, 13:21


        That wouldn’t be hard – I reckon my cat would do a better job than Massa…

        • FLIG (@flig) said on 31st October 2012, 13:39

          I have never been a Massa fan. I have actually disliked him for a while, and think he is a shame for brazilian F1 tradition, as was Barrichello. But, I must say I have the impression that there is a slight chance he even fights for the title next year. Let’s say Alonso doesn’t win the WDC this year, the relationship between him and Ferrari will deteriorate further. Considering that Massa KNOWS 2013 is his last year at Ferrari, and if he stays in F1, he will go back to the middle field, I think it’s safe to say any one would, in his place, race like crazy. Combine that “I don’t give a ****, ’cause it’s my last year” attitude with the “I’ll prove you all wrong” attitude and Alonso’s tension with the team, and all the ‘mimimi’ and ‘me me me’ that may **** off the other ‘mimimi’ and ‘me me me’ guy (LDM), and all he needs is to have a strong start to the season, finishing in front of Alonso as often as not in the first 4 races. I’d estimate this on being a 15% chance against 85% chance that he gets crushed at the start and then all the updates and attention go back to Alonso.

  4. ScuderiaVincero (@scuderiavincero) said on 31st October 2012, 9:13

    Oh dear, does this mean Crashdonaldo will be staying put at Williams?

  5. Journeyer (@journeyer) said on 31st October 2012, 9:14

    The big implication here: Hulk is only contracted to Sauber for a year. Could he be Massa’s replacement at Ferrari?

    He’s certainly a Plan B, at least – he could be Alonso’s new German teammate if Vettel doesn’t push through with a move to Maranello.

  6. Colossal Squid (@colossal-squid) said on 31st October 2012, 9:15

    Wow I’m a bit surprised by this, after the chatter about this move died down I assumed it was just a rumour! Delighted for Hulkenberg. He’s shown this season that he’s got pace and consistency especially over the last few races, and he put in brilliant drives at Valencia and Belgium. A seat well earned!

    Now I just hope that they retain Kobayashi. A pairing of those two for 2013 would be a very interesting battle, and I think it would be cruel if someone as great to watch as Kamui got squeezed out of the sport.

  7. Bullfrog (@bullfrog) said on 31st October 2012, 9:18

    What are the odds it’ll be four teams in four years? He’ll do well to keep up Pérez’s good work but there’s more potential there than at Force India.

    Well done, you beat the BBC to it! Nothing on their pages yet about this story – you’d think they’d be the first to congratulate themselves. Maybe they are looking for a picture of Lewis Hamilton to go with the story.

  8. Troy Longstaff (@troylongstaff) said on 31st October 2012, 9:18

    If Ferrari can’t get Vettel, then Hulkenberg must be favourite to replace Massa when the time comes. IMO, McLaren should have jumped on him instead of Perez, but time will tell.
    A Swiss Chocolate-eating Hulk! There’s something I never thought I’d see!

  9. Oblong_Cheese (@oblong_cheese) said on 31st October 2012, 9:19

    He has outperformed Di Resta fairly consistently despite having been out of the car all last year and has made a sensible move away from an F1 team with a struggling financial outlook.

    • To be honest, I haven’t seen anything special about Di Resta. Hulkenberg’s made a mark but Di Resta is more like Button was in his early days.

    • King Six (@kingsix) said on 31st October 2012, 11:41

      He’s only outperformed Di Resta recently. People are quick to forget Paul’s good run early/mid season. But that’s how F1 works, you’re only as good as your last few races I suppose. In F1 you can have as good as mid/start of a season as you want, but everyone will only remember the end.

      I suggest you look at this websites driver comparisons to see that it’s much closer between the two than they think.

      • celeste (@celeste) said on 31st October 2012, 18:35

        “You are as good as the last race…” people also judged Hulkenberg at the begining of the season… at the most people is reminded of the result of a driver y the number in his car and the last result, not by the crashes or car problems he had has…

  10. Mallesh Magdum (@malleshmagdum) said on 31st October 2012, 9:23

    So, who will drive for Force India in 2013? Adrian Sutil? Buemi? Bianchi?…..will be nice to watch

    • Kimi Räikkönen said on 31st October 2012, 9:32

      I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that Sutil’s manager has confirmed that they are not in contact with Force India.

    • I’m sure Force India won’t take Sutil again, if one has to believe Otmar Szaufner’s words that the team are looking for a fast driver, not a pay one. Buemi’s fast, but going by Spyker/Force India’s trend of selecting test/third drivers(re:Sutil, Liuzzi, di Resta, Hulk), and considering the vast amount of Friday running he’s done, Bianchi is the favourite.

  11. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 31st October 2012, 9:24

    So who takes his place at Force India? The smart money’s got to be on Jules Bianchi.

    In which case, I hope someone finds a seat for Robin Frijns next year so those two can settle their score

    • Girts (@girts) said on 31st October 2012, 9:36

      Alguersuari is still following FI on Twitter and still seems to be confident about his future although that alone, of course, does not 100% ensure that he will really join the team as their race driver. Anyway, I think that FI will sign (or has already signed) either him or Adrian Sutil as di Resta has been struggling lately a bit and they will want a predictably decent driver in the second seat.

    • Girts (@girts) said on 31st October 2012, 9:39

      The fact that Alguersuari has ‘done the equivalent of 11 grand prix distances in tyre testing this year, trying out hundreds of sets of tyres’ should do no harm to his future prospects either…

    • xjr15jaaag (@xjr15jaaag) said on 31st October 2012, 19:00

      Heikki Kovalainen?
      He really deserves at least a midddling drive after the way he’s driven that caterham/Lotus.

    • My beard on the fact that it’s Alguersuari coming in alongside Di Resta next season. He’s been too confident in his statements to not know something for sure.

  12. Kimi Räikkönen said on 31st October 2012, 9:29

    Alguersuari to partner Nico at Sauber with Jules Bianchi taking Hülkenbergs vacated Force India seat.

  13. Eggry (@eggry) said on 31st October 2012, 9:30

    Road to Maranello?

  14. Oskar (@oskar) said on 31st October 2012, 9:31

    Nico Hulkenberg is the most surprising driver of the year, at the same level of Perez.

    Alguersuari to Force India? he has been testing new Pirellis this year.

  15. sumedh said on 31st October 2012, 9:42

    This means Kobayashi is likely to go. That is not good.

    I am still not convinced by Nico. He definitely does not seem to be the next Hamilton, Vettel, Alonso, Button or Webber. May be at par with Di Resta, Massa, Heikki, Rosberg and the like.
    But then, I never thought Button would be that good few years back. Experience might make him a better driver.

    • Kimi Räikkönen said on 31st October 2012, 9:45

      Do you really rate Di Resta at the same level as Hülkenberg?

      • Girts (@girts) said on 31st October 2012, 9:57

        They have been performing equally well for the biggest part of this season (to be precise, until Singapore where di Resta drove a flawless race). Paul has just been struggling since the Japanese GP.

        • Kimi Räikkönen said on 31st October 2012, 10:40

          I really don’t rate Di Resta at all. Maybe I’m just fed up with the beeb talking to him at every race.

        • infy (@infy) said on 31st October 2012, 10:40

          Which doesnt say much for Di Resta as it is Hulks first season with Force India after sitting out a year!

          • Kimi Räikkönen said on 31st October 2012, 10:43

            ^Couldn’t have said it better myself. I expected a lot from Di Resta this season as he had a decent rookie season. Thus far, I’ve been fairly disappointed, with the obvious exception of Singapore.

        • Not really, after 6 rounds Di Resta had 21 points, Hulkenberg 7 points. Given Hulkenberg had been out of Formula One for a year and Di Resta is already familiar with the team that is to be expected.

          Since then Hulkenberg’s scored nearly double the points 42 to 23, and Di Resta scored more than half of them in one go at Singapore. Di Resta is average.

          • Girts (@girts) said on 31st October 2012, 11:04

            Well, Hulkenberg also scored 12 points for his 4th place at Spa, while Di Resta was equally strong on that weekend but had no KERS during the race so scored just 1 point. I think that the championship table doesn’t tell the whole truth although I agree that Hulkenberg’s year off was a disadvantage for him.

          • I just don’t think Di Resta is that good. He got beat by a journeyman in Sutil, who is like Heidfeld, solid and dependable but never going to set the world on fire. And now Nico is really coming into his own and putting Paul in the shade.

            People like David Coulthard and others on both BBC and Sky were trying to push him as the outstanding candidate for the Mclaren seat, which irritated me as the only reason I could see for that would be because he’s British, and he would be going to a British team. This, despite Mclaren being probably the best example of a team on the grid which always tries to take the best driver available, regardless of external circumstances. Di Resta’s performances haven’t merited such a step up IMO.

        • The mark of a good young driver is how he can improve over the course of a season, not how high his highs are(one reason why I believe Hulk > Perez).

          • both force india drivers have generally made the most of Grosjean / Maldonado “taking out” frontrunners or leading midfield (ie Perez).
            That said, Hulk’s good but not great so far, brought in as steady-eddy at Sauber.

      • Nickpkr said on 31st October 2012, 19:54

        Di Resta is risking a year off !

    • Hmm…. I think he seems exactly like another Button or Webber :-)

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