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

  1. GeeMac (@geemac) said on 31st October 2012, 10:44

    It is a great move for the Hulk. Sauber have historically been able to get the best out of quick young drivers (Frentzen, Raikkonen, Heidfeld, Massa, Perez) and they have built a very solid racing car this year. The Hulk will be hoping this rich vein of form continues into next season.

    However, this news is definitly a big “oh dear” (or “Deer” if you are Juan Montoya) moment for the likes of Kobayashi, Gutierrez and Alguersuari. It also limits possible options for Bruno Senna, who looks likely to loose his place to Bottas. Alguersuari seems certain he has a seat for next season…based on this his most likley destination is Force India alongside Di Resta. With Kobayashi having been told he needs to bring cash to Sauber to save his drive it seems more and more likely that Gutierrez will have the second Sauber seat. That would mean that the best seat Kobayashi and Senna could hope for would be with Caterham.

  2. Enigma (@enigma) said on 31st October 2012, 11:44

    Great! Sauber have underperformed this year, through bad luck (Spa, Monaco) and drivers being inexperienced, inconsistent and possibly not fast enough (impossible to really know though). The car has been really fast on occasions.

    I believe Hulkenberg would have achieved more this year than Perez has, possibly a win or even two.

    I’m really happy about it – Sauber, my favourite team, hasn’t really had any really likeable drivers recently (for me at least) – and now they’ve taken on Hulk, who is my favourite driver alongside Heikki!

  3. William Brierty said on 31st October 2012, 11:58

    Yes, the C32 is able to look after it tyres better than other teams, and when setup properly, is capable of putting Kobayashi on the front row. The C32 is fundementally better than Mercedes’ W03, which was designed with the money of a 4th place WCC ranking and the engineering might of Mercedes-Benz, whilst the C32 has no big manufacturers behind it (apart from its Ferrari engine and gearbox) and was designed with only the revenue of a lowly 7th placed constructors ranking. What a great acheivement the C32 is for Sauber, it being the 5th fastest car on track. and a great base for the 2013 car. Their inevitable 6th WCC ranking will give them more cash to play with too. So a fast C33 coupled with finest young driver there is, and a near certain future champion in Hulkenburg, sounds like a package able to challenge for early season victories to me.

  4. My prediction is he will do worse generally at Sauber next year than he has done at Force India. He may however by the end of next season sneak a podium. If Esteban partners him, I predict Sauber will slip back to 7th in constructors. It very much depends on who the 2nd driver is as to what direction the team go in imho.

  5. MahavirShah (@mahavirshah) said on 31st October 2012, 13:35

    Really happy for Nico Hulkenberg. He has been one of the most underrated drivers of the year for me, however I feel a bit sad that Force India will lose him to a direct rival. Force India needs to really start working on retaining their good drivers. They could not prevent Fisichella going and now they couldn’t retain Hulkenberg.

    I think it will probably be Bianchi for the FI seat. They usually seem to promote their test drivers and Bianchi has done a decent job as well. Should be interesting to look out for.

  6. sozavele (@formula-1) said on 31st October 2012, 14:11

    I really hope this move works out for him as he has talent, but sometimes when we see teams pull out surprisingly good cars compared to previous ones, like Sauber have done, the following car is a bit of a let down, to partner Hulkenburg in my opinion they should start afresh with a new line up, personally I don’t think they should go with Guitierezz, even though I did not watch the practice session he didn’t really impress me, considering Van der Garde was in the Caterham and beat him (even though he has had more practice) but this tells me I don’t think he is ready for F1 yet, but other fanatics may disagree, I think they should go with somebody with experience, Senna is out of the equation, even though I do like he has not impressed me, if Williams want the cash they’ll keep him, for some stupid reason I think they might but I don’t know why they would, I think Senna might be Sauber or Force India test driver next year. I think somebody like Heikki Kovalainen would be good for Sauber he has the experience of Alguersuari or Buemi.

  7. Fixy (@fixy) said on 31st October 2012, 14:47

    Great: my second-favourite drivers in my second-favourite team. I have always had high hopes for Hulkenberg and perhaps I’ve overrated him a little, but I trust him and I think he’ll be fighting for the WDC soon.
    It’s a shame for Force India as I was liking the team less and less, as I’m doing with Paul di Resta, and now having lost Hulkenberg there is little reason for me to support them. Hopefully Bianchi can get the second seat there and Gutierrez the second Sauber seat. The Sauber line-up would be a dream one for me!

  8. Good Move for Hulkenberg, Force India for 2013, naaaa

  9. F1 98 said on 31st October 2012, 19:44

    Congrats to Hulkenburg…

  10. I think it’s a good move for Huilk and I’d be surprised if there wasn’t some sort of contact with Ferrari about it. Would have been good to see Ferrari take a chance on him I mean, surely he cant be even further behind Alionso than Massa is on average.

    Hopefully Sauber build a solid car and he can regularly be in the points with potential for a podium or 2 but like others have said I wouldn’t be surprised if Sauber fell back next year, they are a small team after all.

    Of the younger drivers, Hulkenberg is the best I think, better than Di Resta, Ricciardo and Vergne. So I hope it works out for him.

  11. Kimi4WDC said on 31st October 2012, 22:48

    I really love Nico’s attitude and his view on things, wish him all the best in Sauber. Hopefully Sauber can build on this season.

    Force India must be gutted to loose their desirable driver to a rival team.

  12. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 1st November 2012, 13:14

    Seems like an exciting move! Force India strike me as being pretty dull and they never really do anything special, unlike Sauber this year. Of course, we can’t guarantee that 2013 will be another 2012 for Sauber but I would think they stand a better chance of progression than Force India do.

  13. Javier (@f1karting) said on 3rd November 2012, 19:23

    Yesterday it was all over the papers in Mexico that Carlos Slim Jr has announced that Esteban Gutierrez will run for Sauber. As I mentioned some days back, for Telmex is a no brainer. For commercial reasons they need a Mexican in the team. Does that make Esteban a Pay driver? Yes, because it means that they will have to let go Kobayashi, but only time will tell if Esteban can be worth his place by himself. He came 3rd in GP 2 so it is clear he has proven to be part of the short list of promising drivers. Sauber should announce it this week.

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