Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, Singapore, 2012

Nico Hulkenberg joins Sauber for 2013

2013 F1 season

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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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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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124 comments on “Nico Hulkenberg joins Sauber for 2013”

  1. 50 quid says Hulkenberg will take a victory in the 2013 Sauber

    1. Chris (@tophercheese21)
      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.

      1. @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.

        1. Bob (@bobthevulcan)
          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!

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

          2. @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.

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

          4. Bob (@bobthevulcan)
            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.

      2. 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.

        1. @daved I agree… I personally feel Hulkenberg is the better driver

  2. 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.

    1. @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.

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

        1. 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.

      2. @keithcollantine

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

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

    1. Well, Force India seem to be in need of money…

      But yeah, he’s still more likely to stay at Williams.

      1. Force India are probably the only mid-field team that have stayed away from pay-drivers per se. They said they want the fastest driver, doesn’t matter the millions or not.

        1. Sauber?
          (Perez arguably is a pay driver, but by extension, so is Alonso.)

  5. 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.

    1. @journeyer actually, why not Vettel-Hulkenberg? LdM hasn’t always shown a like for non-results. He likes instant gratification IMO, and I know Alonso has been title-worthy in all but his first half season at Ferrari – but you never know, with LdM.

      1. If I were LdM, I’d be better off keeping him with me. The thought of Alonso in a Red Bull should scare Ferrari – and the rest of the grid.

  6. 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. 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. 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!

    1. No, think the Mac team have gonr the right way with Perez, see him as a future champion

      1. @spartacus I actually agree with @troylongstaff – I think Hulkenberg is the better driver, but we won’t know for now.

  9. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. I agree – I’m not sure why Di Resta is hyped up so much. All I hear from him is more whining. Get on with it and get the job done, ala Hulk.

        1. And be more interesting.

          And smiling would be nice since he does something thousands of other people would love to do. He could even pretend to enjoy it.

      2. Di Resta beat Vettel in F3 when they were team mates, so I think he’s pretty good, but I think Vettel has developed far more as a driver.

    2. 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.

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

    1. Kimi Räikkönen
      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.

      1. Sutil has had his chance and never really impressed me! He was quick on occasions in qualifying but seemed inconsistent in races! I hope they bring Bianchi in myself.

    2. 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. 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

    1. 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.

    2. 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…

      1. He also, quite coyly, said that he has a deal in place for 2013. With whom, is anyone’s guess. But, I’d think its Force India. There doesn’t seem to be another place apart from Williams maybe.

        1. HRT? With Delarosa as teammanager?

          1. Alguersuari has always say that he will no drive for HRT, since the car was to ad for his standard…

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

    4. 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
    31st October 2012, 9:29

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

    1. If you’re planning to use Kimi’s name then try to restrict your replies to 3-4 words, even Lotus has embraced that: xD

      1. Kimi Räikkönen
        31st October 2012, 10:40

        Your reply doesn’t interest me :D

        1. That’s five words $:)

    2. That would be a cool line-up. Alguersuari was banging on about something around Singapore time but nothing ever came of it…

  13. Road to Maranello?

    1. Wouldn’t be surprised if it happens..

  14. 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.

    1. @oskar To be honest – I don’t think Perez would be able to take the fight to Hulkenberg over a season. Maybe individual races, but not over the season.

      1. So far done that ….

    2. Di Resta looked really promising last year but Hulkenberg has really put him in the shade. I like Hulkenberg. I really think with the right car and experiences he will be up there with the Vettels and Hamiltons in the future.

  15. 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.

    1. Kimi Räikkönen
      31st October 2012, 9:45

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

      1. 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.

        1. Kimi Räikkönen
          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.

          1. Could be why Im not fussed too…personality of a steel door.

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

          1. Kimi Räikkönen
            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.

        3. 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.

          1. 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.

          2. 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.

        4. 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).

          1. 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.

      2. Di Resta is risking a year off !

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

  16. That’s fantastic for the Hulk. My only worry is that Sauber don’t fall backwards next year. The place where they are right now on the grid has had the potential for surprise podiums. I hope it’s the same level or better next year.

  17. Ok, so Hulk is at Sauber, replacing Perez who replaces Hamilton who replaces Schumi who is out.

    Bianchi, Frijns, Bottas, Antonio Felix da Costa, Valsecchi, Razia, Guttierez, Van den Garde, Razia, Turvey and Chilton could all hope for a seat. Same goes for Alguersari. (though it’s maybe a bit early for Frijns, Chilton, AFdC or even Evans…). If Pic goes to Caterham, only seats left and possibly under threat look like to be : both HRTs, Petrov, Senna, Glock (?), Vergne (?), Kobayashi.

    With the new talents pushing below, Bottas’s position seems difficult to hold as he hasn’t raced this year !

    This being F1, other surprises are possible.

    Interesting silly seadon ahead !

    1. I’m guessing that the second Sauber seat will go to either Esteban Gutierrez or Robin Frijns. A decision will likely be made after the Abu Dhabi Young Driver Tests.

      Force India is a much harder one to settle on, but I think it will come down to a straight fight between Jaime Alguersuari, Jules Bianchi and a high-paying GP2 driver like van der Garde. Sponsor money will probably go a long way to settling that one, simply because all three could cut it in Formula 1.

      Caterham are in a tough position. They’ve lost tenth place to Marussia in the World Constructors’ Championship, so they need money – but while Vitaly Petrov has lost his backing from the Russian government, he’s also out-performing Heikki Kovalainen. At the very least, the two are much more evenly-matched than Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli. I suspect we may see Petrov and Pic in the team next year. Kovalainen might go to Force India depending on when the team makes their decision.

  18. bad news for Kamui? :(

    1. The signs are that the Brazilian GP will be Kamui’s final race in F1. Drivers usually don’t talk that openly about the ‘need to find a sponsor’ as Kobayashi has been doing lately, it rather looks like making excuses for the expected departure. It seems that Sauber are evaluating Gutierrez now.

  19. What are the chances of Force India signing up an Indian driver now?

    1. I’d say the same as they were 24 hours ago, unless they suddenly need Karthikeyan’s Tata cash.

      1. Dr Vijay Mallya needs cash for sure xD

    2. If Alguersuari is granted Indian citizenship, then it looks good.

  20. So that leaves us with the following situation for 2013 ( and I’m assuming here that Grosjean will stay put at Lotus, and that Kovaleinen will stay put at caterham)

    Mclaren: Button/Perez
    Ferrari: Alonso/Massa
    Lotus: Raikonnen/Grosjean
    Red Bull: Vettel/Webber
    Sauber: Hulkenberg/EMPTY ONE
    Mercedes: Hamilton/Rosberg
    Force India: Di Resta/EMPTY TWO
    Caterham: Kovaleinen/EMPTY FIVE
    Marussia: Glock/EMPTY SIX
    HRT: De la Rosa/EMPTY SEVEN

    So by my count 7 empty seat/unconfirmed seats for 2013, while we have the following candidates:

    Champion and runner up from FR 3.5 and GP@ (main feeder series)

    1) Frijns
    2) Bianchi
    3) Valsecchi
    4) Razzia

    current drivers:

    5) Petrov
    6) Ricciardo
    7) Vergne
    8) Karthikkian (spelled wrong , I know)
    9) Pic
    10) Kobayashi

    Test drivers who might get promoted:

    11) van de Garde
    12) Gutriez
    13) Algesuarie

    So that’s 13 hopefulls for 7 seats, might eb others i left out, but if any drivers outside this gruop have a ligitemite shot at a seat next year, it would surprise me. Here’s my 2 cents:

    The most deserving of the new crop would be Frijns for me , but he’ll probably lose out on a seat due to not having any money.

    I expect the Force India seat to got to either Algesuarie or Bianchi, I hope the former
    The Sauber seat should go to Kobayashi or Frijns, but I’m afraid they will have no choice but to promote an in my oppinion undeserving Gutriez.

    Torro Rosso is the key I think, although both Vernge and Ricciardo have preformed pretty well, neither has stood out (in what si a dog of a car admitted) But I suspect at least one of them will be dropped. My guess is Vergne will stay on, and will be partnered by Pic

    Caterham will see dollar signs and give the seat to van de Garde, of whom (although I’m dutch) have no high opinnion.

    Marussia have a trend of picking a driver high in the GP@ championship, so probably Valsecchi will drive for them.

    That leaves HRT seat, if algesuari goes to Force india , this will probably go to Bianchi.

    That means Frijns, and Kobiyashi, two of the most deserving drivers of the 13 in my oppinion will probably be out of a seat for next year :(

    1. You forgot Bottas and Antonio Felix da Costa

      1. You’re right, as a matter of fact I’ve foprgotten Williams al together :s haha

        So, ok Williams: maldonado/EMPTY EIGHT
        Test drivers 14) Bottas

        Bottas will probably get the williams seat


      2. Da costa will probably get another shot at the FR 3.5 title I think, he’s impressed, but has not won a major title yet. In that aspect he’s got the advantage over Frijns, both are the same age and would do well wit another campaign in FR 3.5, unfortunatly for Frijns this would be seen as a step back. He’s kind of the victim of his own rapid rise I think :S

        1. I agree. Da Costa seems destine for Formula 1, but I doubt Red Bull will be in any hurry to put him in a seat. I expect he’ll join the grid in 2014. The only way he might join sooner is if Vergne or Ricciardo are ditched by Toro Rosso mid-season next year. But that will be a difficult decision to make, because this year’s car has been rather lacklustre.

    2. Bob (@bobthevulcan)
      31st October 2012, 10:26

      @melkurion – A very nicely done assessment of the driver market you have here!

      In my opinion, Alguersuari will probably get the Force India drive, and Marussia will likely pick Max Chilton to replace Pic. Sauber will promote Gutierrez – he wasn’t very impressive at India, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

      Could help but notice Williams missing from the list, though. Maldonado is pretty much set for next year, so the big question is, Bottas or Senna? Judging by his Friday appearances, I would think Bottas.

      1. Yep, tottaly forgot about Williams, my bad, but I agree with you Maldonado and Bottas seems bvery Likely , Senna…well…enough said, I suppose :s

        Why Max Chilton? I know he’s in the marussia junior team, but he’s still evry young, I would expect he gets another year to prove himself in GP2 or FR 3.5

        1. Chilton actually did pretty well for himself in GP2 this year.

        2. Well he is a GP2 rookie with good results and a F1 connection. So he has half a chance (and just as much as GvdGard)

        3. But to be honnest, I agree, Chilton, Da Costa, Frijns all have enough time to perfect their racing in the lower categories. But if the two last carry on winning, there will be a time when quesitons will be asked ! But seriously, 23 seets is not enough for the whole world to climb in !

        4. Bob (@bobthevulcan)
          31st October 2012, 12:25

          Chilton has close ties to the Marussia team, has GP2 experience, and is due to drive for them in Abu Dhabi Friday practice. I’d say he’s in contention for a seat, especially with the speculation that Pic is moving on to the midfield. That being said, I do agree that he may need a bit more experience before making the leap into F1. Let’s see how he performs this Friday.

        5. @melkurion If we look at Marussia’s history…

          2010 Driver: Lucas di Grassi
          2009 GP2 Result: 3rd

          2011 Driver: Jérôme d’Ambrosio
          2010 GP2 Result: 12th

          2012 Driver: Charles Pic
          2011 GP2 Result: 4th

          So logically…

          2013 Driver: Max Chilton
          2012 GP2 Result: 4th

    3. William Brierty
      31st October 2012, 12:19

      No, a Valsecchi/Kovalainen line-up at Caterham is nearly a certanty. For the following reasons…
      1. Every GP2 champion in history has competed in F1 – although Pantano became GP2 champion AFTER driving in F1
      2. Valsecchi is well-known to the team, he drove in FP1 at Malaysia 2011. He also competed in the Lotus/Caterham GP2 team.
      3. He brings extensive sponsorship – especially from Italian property giants Ediltecnica
      4. He is a class-act, and has extensive single-seater experience, something, as demonstrated by De La Rosa, that is valuable to the smaller teams

      1. Argument 1 is true, but this year the GP2 field was not exactly stellar when it comes to talent, Valsecchi GP2 title (although deserved) I fear will be percieved as worth less then previous ones. So in my oppinion GP2 champion does not guarantee a seat this year. I was not aware of the link between Valsecchi & Caterham, but van de Garde has scimilar strong ties and drove GP2 this year for their junior team, he also has extensive sponsers (from his father in law) and he has been getting a lot of friday free practices for Caterham lately. Although I personally agree he would do a better job than van de Garde by far, I’m not so sure he’ll get the Caterham seat.

        1. William Brierty
          31st October 2012, 15:45

          I agree that perhaps the crop of GP2 talent is poorer than other years, but if Chilton and Gutierrez can get seats, Valsecchi and Razia certainly deserve ones. Perhaps Valsecchi is lacking in raw speed, but so is Perez, and he’s going to McLaren next year. Valsecchi won the title with consistancy, intelligence and a great ability to preserve the Pirelli tyres, assets that are equally valued by modern F1 teams than speed. And if you want to compare Valsecchi and Van De Garde, then obviously Valsecchi is faster, he brings MUCH more sponsorship, and whilst Van De Garde’s Friday drives make his links with the team more obvious, Valsecchi did another straight-line test for Caterham the weekend before last. And as I said, Valsecchi drove for the then Lotus team in Malaysia last year. This move is certain, as certain as Hulkenberg’s move to Sauber was. If I had a spare house I would bet it on seeing Valsecchi at Caterham next year.

          1. Mmm, good arguments, I was very cnvinced it was going to be van de garde, but you sir, have swayed my oppinion ( and I do hope you are right)

  21. 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.

    1. It also limits possible options for Bruno Senna

      No, it doesn’t – I seriously doubt Sauber was ever an option for Bruno Senna. He simply isn’t performing on any level. He has the occasional semi-impressive drive, but they are few and far between.

      1. Fair enough.

      2. Seriously? Forget a second about how much money drivers bring in, just as an exercise in imagination. In the last 12 races, after his victory, Maldonado scored 4 points, while Senna scored 12. Before Maldonado’s victory, he had scored 4 points to Senna’s 14. That victory was impressive, of course, but I can’t see how Senna’s overall performance makes it ‘obvious’ he has to go, while Maldonado gets to stay in F1.

        1. I’ve run that argument with @prisoner-monkeys (and many others actually) before, I don’t have the time to run it again so thanks @flig for raising it!

          1. That said I do agree with @prisoner-monkeys that Bruno was never in the running for a Sauber seat, I was just raising his name to keep the debate going as the second Williams seat is still up for grabs.

          2. Well, I was not there, but I understand there’s no point in arguing twice about fellas that are not going to make a difference anyway.

    2. It’s like a horse…with horns

  22. 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!

  23. William Brierty
    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.

    1. The reason that the C32 is a great base for the 2013 car is that it IS the 2013 car :P

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. 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!

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

  29. Congrats to Hulkenburg…

  30. 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.

  31. 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.

  32. 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.

  33. 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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