Nico Hulkenberg signed a contract this week to race with the Force India team in 2012, according to reports. The 24-year-old made a promising grand prix debut in 2010, culminating in pole position in Brazil, but he was replaced by Williams with the well-backed Pastor Maldonado ostensibly for financial reasons.
Germany’s motorsport-total.com reports that the German, who has been Force India’s reserve and Friday practice driver in 2011, will make his return to racing in 2012, replacing his experienced countryman Adrian Sutil. The report said Hulkenberg has inked a one-year deal with an option for 2013.
“We will make no comment on the driver issue until the team makes a statement,” his manager Timo Gans is quoted by SID news agency.
“Already the current contract includes an option, so either way a new contract does not need to be signed,” he added.
Team boss Vijay Mallya has said he will not announce Force India’s next driver lineup until December.
Sutil’s manager Manfred Zimmermann has denied that Hulkenberg will definitely be Paul di Resta’s new teammate in 2012.
“That is not right. The team – Vijay Mallya and Rob Fernley – confirmed yesterday that this is a rumour in the press and not the truth,” he insisted.
“We are in negotiations with the team,” added Sutil’s manager. “When they are concluded I cannot say, but we certainly will not wait until December the fifteenth.”