As has been expected Sauber this morning confirmed that Nico Hulkenberg will join the team for 2013. Currently racing for Force India, Hulkenberg has been seen as something of a future star for many years, and enjoyed a relatively successful debut year at Williams that included one pole position,
He has generally had the legs of team-mate Paul di Resta this season, but many are questioning a move that appears to be very much a sideways step. Sahara Force India is likely to be affected by the financial problems facing co-owner Vijay Mallya, so it could be that Hulkenberg sees Sauber as a more sensible and safe option. The team has produced a fine car this year, one that has challenged for podium places on a number of occasions.
The identity of the second driver at Sauber remains unconfirmed, with Sergio Perez off to McLaren and Kamui Kobayashi reportedly needing to bring money that he doesn’t have. It would be a pity to see Kobayashi elbowed aside as he is a very watchable and promising talent, but third driver Esteban Gutierrez is strongly rumoured to be on the verge of taking the driver, and bringing continued financial benefits from the Mexican backers associated with Perez. It is worth bearing in mind that Bruno Senna may also be on the market, and could be a choice for both Sauber and others.
Likewise, the situation at Sahara Force India remains unclear. Mallya’s financial problems are well-known and his Kingfisher Airlines faces near-ruin, but the team goes on. Paul di Resta is a worthy talent – if not a special one – and is familiar with the team, but the blogs are awash with tales that Adrian Sutil, a team stalwart, is to return for 2013. Should the team survive, this would be a safe pair of hands for the Silverstone-based outfit.