Sauber have confirmed that Nico Hulkenberg will drive for them next season. The German currently races with Force India after spending 2011 as their reserve driver. Rumours have circulated since the Korean Grand Prix nearly three weeks ago that Nico would be moving to the swiss team to replace Sergio Perez who left the team to join McLaren after Hamilton left McLaren to join Mercedes.
“We’ve been observing Nico for some time now and his performances have been very persuasive,” said Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn. “That was the case in GP2 and has continued into Formula 1. 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,” she added.
While Hulkenberg had this to say “I’m really looking forward to working with Sauber,” 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. Sauber is currently going through a very positive development and I’m certain that together we can achieve a lot,” he hoped. “Until that time I will remain fully focused on my job with Force India.”
The talk of the paddock is that Esteban Gutierrez who currently acts as the team’s reserve driver will step in as his team-mate, leaving Kamui Kobayashi without a drive in 2013. However, Both 2011 Toro Rosso drivers, Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastian Buemi are expected to be fighting for a seat at the team aswell as Adrian Sutil after he was dropped by Force India following on from a conviction in January of grievous bodily harm against Lotus group CEO Eric Lux.
Sauber’s rising star, Sergio Perez, has already been snatched up by McLaren after they lost their own star, Lewis Hamilton, to Mercedes.
If Sauber were to hire Esteban Gutierrez, it would enable them to feed off billionaire Carlos Slim, one of the richest men in the world who already has a connection with Sauber and is happy to sponsor Mexican drivers.
It’s believed that if Alguersuari, Buemi and Sutil fail to make the grade at either Force India or Sauber, they will probably be knocking on Caterham’s door where Giedo van der Garde has been lined up to take Vitaly Petrov’s seat for 2013, especially since the Russian lost his government funding and no longer has a sponsor.