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Hulkenberg commits to Force India for two more years – top team dream now gone?
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Nico Hulkenberg
Posted By: Alex Kalinauckas  |  01 Sep 2015   |  12:29 pm GMT  |  54 comments

Force India has confirmed that Nico Hulkenberg will remain on-board for 2016 and has resigned the German driver for two more years. The driver market is beginning to close out now, following Ferrari’s decision to retain Kimi Raikkonen for next season.

Hulkenberg has raced for the Silverstone-based team for three seasons – spread over two stints that included one year in 2012 and another that began in 2014. He was also the squad’s reserve driver during the 2011 season.

The 28-year-old had been the subject of rumours about his future in F1 throughout 2015, with a number of reports linking him to Haas F1, the American team that will make its debut next season, and Kimi Raikkonen’s seat at Ferrari.

Nico Hulkenberg

Hulkenberg also made two special LMP1 appearances for Porsche in the World Endurance Championship this year, that included a debut victory in the famous Le Mans 24 Hours, which lead to speculation that he could join the German marque in sportscar racing full-time.

But Force India confirmed this morning that Hulkenberg would be extending his stay with the team for a third straight F1 season and has signed a two-year contract.

Hulkenberg said: “I’m very pleased to finalise and announce my plans for the future. I know this team inside out and I feel at home here so it made perfect sense to make a long-term commitment.

“The progress the team has shown over the last two years has really impressed me and gives me confidence for the future. It’s a great group of people who are hungry for success and want to keep improving year-on-year.

Nico Hulkenberg

“I think we have the important things in place going forward and I want to continue growing with this team as we move even further up the grid.”

So far this season, Hulkenberg has scored 24 points and achieved a highest finished of sixth place at the Austria Grand Prix, just a week after his Le Mans triumph.

Force India will be delighted to have retained the German, who is highly rated by many fans and F1 insiders but who has never managed to persuade the top teams to give him a chance. This deal, which will take him past his 30th birthday, makes it unlikely that he will ever get that top team chance now, unless exceptional circumstances arise. Mercedes has a stable driver line up for the foreseeable future and is likely to fight with Ferrari and Red Bull at some point over the services of Max Verstappen.

Force India team boss Vijay Mallya said of the new deal: “I make no secret of being one of Nico’s biggest fans and so it’s fantastic to confirm him as our driver for the next couple of seasons.

Vijay Mallya

“He has spent almost four years with us already and in that time we’ve seen him develop into one of the best racing drivers in the world.

“Nico has the speed, the technical knowledge and the maturity to help us achieve some great results in the years ahead. We will do everything we can to continue delivering a car to match his talent.”

Sergio Perez

Force India is yet to announce who will start alongside Hulkenberg in 2016, as his current teammate Sergio Perez is yet to have his contract extended. However, as the Mexican driver has scored 25 points for team so far this year and brings a significant amount of sponsorship to the squad, Force India is expected to retain him for a third season.

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1

It doesn’t look likely Hulkenberg will get the chance He deserves, but who knows? Maybe something will open for him with the grid shaking up. Maybe Renault have a go at signing him after Pastor’s contract ends. (I assume Autosport is right and Renault will buy Lotus.) Maybe Force India could continue to perform as a customer team, and they will attract a works partner?

2
Tornillo Amarillo

HULK is just the perfect racer! It is amazing how Mallya feels blessed for having such a wonderful driver, he praised him with humility.

This long extension is a great thing for Team and driver. They will work to do great things. FI has a Merc PU and two ambitious drivers.

This weekend in Monza HULK could grab a podium! Yeah, yeah…

So he is old like HAMILTON, tell me who doesn’t believe that HAMILTON could get 2, 3 or 4 more WDC? So why not HULK! Just focus and persistence (to get the right car at the right moment).

Maybe Ferrari or Merc will pay a fortune soon to Force India to buy his long term contract… Well thought.

This weekend HULK for a podium. Or soon.

3

Great for both FI and Hulk considering available options.

FI gets to continue with their solid and known driver.

Hulk considering limited options and in a known team means good for him.

If Hulk keeps performing he may have a chance at top team in future. If not this best of res oft top team.

4

Hulkenberg and Perez. A very good driver line up. They’ve both shown well against other drivers.

5

Best move for him I think.

On the subject of why he’s not been taken on by a top team… same reason as Bottas I think. Neither of them are blowing away their team mates, both of whom have already had a chance to prove themselves in top teams. (Although that said, I think Checo did respectably against Button at McLaren).

6

Seems to me the market is in stalemate right now, except for the Haas seats

MB has a WDC and a good performing runner up, who has been with the team for 6 years now and both still can race at a top level for 5-6 years more. The only reason to leave or fire them is if they get bored of winning

RBR has two good drivers and a whole academy of young guns climbing up the ranks, if RIC or KVY mess up, they just promote Verstappen or Sainz

Ferrari has VET for the long run, so the only available spot is Kimi’s, but Ferrari only hires proven quantity and how do show them if you only drive B level cars

PER was a Ferrari Driver Academy and has Slim backing, so he has a better chance if and when something happens there, even after the McLaren fiasco

McHonda have 2 WDC and a string of fast GP2 kids waiting in the lines

So how do you do better than FI?

Not with Sauber, or Manor. Haas is an unknown and might take time to be in the fight.

Lotus probably can not afford him and might be struggling as Renault next year, maybe Williams, as long as you change your own tyres

I also think the present crop of drivers, disregarding one or two individuals, are a pretty competent and competitive bunch, meaning HUL or GRO or BOT could be WDC in a Mercedes, and ROS, VET and HAM would maybe get an ocasional podium in a FI or Lotus or Williams

So it is hard to be chosen by the top teams with few seats and many good drivers available

7

I like the guy, but come on, win a race!

That said, FI is a team capable of a win with the right set of circumstances, Nico shouldnt have a problem accomplishing the small task that all world champions have done – their first win.

8

I think its unfortunate that Hulk couldnt find a top drive this year round. Although its good news for FI that they have an experienced driver there to help them take the next step. He is a quick and reliable driver anyday and FI will benefit from his ambition boosting those of FI. Now for the second driver, I think its very possible that Perez will go to renault since he will be a better version of Pastor with the same amount of sponsorship money. If that happens, I hope to god that FI dont take pastor, instead I think pascal wehrlein might be an interesting option since he has already shown his pace and he will also get FI some engine discounts from Mercedes.

9

Force India is a good call – the car has potential.

Reminds me of the team’s time as Jordan – for years nothing a conveyer belt of a team then Damon Hill helped realise the potential in the team. Got the win a one two and a 3rd in the constructors. Frentzen carried it and then the sale and back to mediocrity.

Hulkenburg, if he is as good as so many believe CAN win in that car, question is can he rise to the challenge.

Imo it is not a team any driver should look down on or turn their nose up at. It has the potential to win – its upto the drivers to unlock that potential. It’s been done before.

Perez looks promising – the Hulk needs to watch him!

10

He is very talented, Haas is an uncertainity for next year , 5th in cosntructors championship is possible this year and with the specs for 2016 same as this year I think Fi will be performing well.

What is clear is that he is not under Ferrari’s radar, and with Red Bull and Mercedes with long term agreements with their drivers the only chance is McLaren but at this moment FI is better.

I readed a note that says Perez is being considered by Renault if they takes over Lotus. Romain-Perez seems to be a fairly good line up. Pastor to FI?

11

Without Pastor on the track to thwart him or crash into him Grosjean could kick butt…..Imo.

12

A bit harsh on Pastor. Sure he has had some.”issues” in the past but of all the incidents with other cars this year he was only at fault once in Hungary the other times he was the victim of mistakes by Jenson at China Dan at Silverstone pushing Romain into him at Malaysia Valteri hit him and oz was also not his fault.

Give the guy a break he is a race winner and he didn’t luck into it either he had to hold off a pretty good steerer in Fernando and at Spain.

13

A real shame.

I am a stern Hulk enthusiast, but I fear he has got it wrong this time.

He should have waited for Renault, if everything turns out as it seems the more likely, he would have ended up in a big constructor’s team. A Grosjean-Hulk team under the direction of Alain Prost and Cyril Abiteboul would have been an enticing perspective.

Renault has been working all year receiving the wise input from Mario Illien, I do put very high hopes on the evolution of the Renault P.U. for Sochi. It was a bet worth taking.

Renault has proved time and again that they can deliver, despite the bad times they are going through. I just hope that was Force India to get a Renault engine, Hulk would be part of the trade.

14

Renault have reject Mario Illien’s suggested changes to their PU. He was a consultant brought in at the behest of Red Bull who came up with a different prototype to Renault’s preferred path:-

http://au.motorsport.com/f1/news/renault-decides-not-to-adopt-ilmor-prototype-option/

15

Well Force India got the better end of that deal, The Hulk is now likely to spend the rest of his F1 career hoping the six or seven cars in front of him have a problem.

This is what happens when talented teenage rookies appear and drivers twice their age fail to leave, Guys like Hulkenberg get bottled up in the middle.

Maybe F1 should be like Logan’s Run…35 and you’re out.

16

Absolutely not

Guys like Kimi , Jenson and Fernando still give F1 both on and off track and should retire from F1 when they want in my view.

Hulk isn’t good enough in the eyes of top teams . If he was able to beat Perez on a consistent basis (which he can’t) he would be in a much better position to get a front-running drive. I also have a gut feeling that Max Verstappen may be another driver who does not deliver on his early career promise.

17

A fine driver and a very likeable person, but as for getting into a top team, his record speaks for itself: 88 GPs and never on a podium, and this year he’s one point behind Perez.

He’s had plenty of opportunity to showcase himself for a top drive and has been found wanting.

18

Agree, I think many of us think he is a better driver because he is a very nice guy and has done some very good races, but he should defeat Perez in a clearer way which haven’t happened, I consider Perez the Chicharito Hernandez of F1.

19

Good on him.

Hulk knows he has no other option other than Force India.

Their car looks in good shape now. So Miller time at Force India…all depending on their

Arthur Daly/Del Boy Boss being able to manage his reputation & the Indian Tax Inspectors regarding his Asian businesses. [Mod]

The only one is Perez will he go off to Lotus & Maldo The Crashinator go to Force India?

The motorbike version of Maldo has to be Carl Crutchlow at present he needs super glue to stay on his Moto Gp bike.

Though Miller was at fault at Silverstone tbis time round.

20

Never say never in F1: remember, Mark Webber was 30 yrs. old when he signed with Red Bull, and 32 when the team finally came good in 2009. Although The Australian never won the title, he did manage to win a handful of races and fight for the title in 2010. I imagine a similar scenario is still a possibility for The Hulk.

21

+1, never know

22

It’s especially tough to get into a top team these days, Red Bull have a backlog of very quick young guys from their own Young driver programme, Ferrari have always preferred experience over youth, and in Hulkenberg’s case his nationality counts against him. you would think that being German might help him into a seat at Mercedes, but it appears they see no reason to make a change so that leaves the potential Renault squad and McLaren as longterm bets, but time is running out.

23

How can you say Hulkenburg’s nationality is against him at Ferrari? What nationality is Schumacher and Vettel?

24

Expatpom, Seb being German is the problem. If we assume he is staying at Ferrari then it is unlikely they would run two German drivers. It is unusual for teams to run two drivers with the same nationality as it limits the marketing possibilities. One European and one South American driver has been the ideal for a while now, think of how many teams reflect this.

25

Perhaps it’s not a bit fit for the Hulk.

Perhaps being in a straight talking, efficient, no nonsense Anglo-Germanic team is better than the political turmoil of life at Maranello………………..ask Irvo or Rubino! Psychologically both of them were battered by being forced into doing the bridesmaid role to the extent it looked like they were subservient slaves forced to do Michael’s dirty work. Let’s face it, Maranello has it’s new Schumi (Mk2) and from now all engineering and emotional support eggs are going in SV’s basket. The other driver? He can fend for himself…………..

FI have been a bit weak on aero efficiency tracks in the last few years (Silverstone, Spa, Suzuka, et al) but with GE likely to return in 2017, and a whole raft of new regs that come with, whose to say a small, agile, nimble team like FI can’t make a big leap forwards?

The Hulk should take heart – it took JB 113 races, Rubino 123 races, Trulli Train 127 races and Webbo 130 races to win that elusive first grand prix. Don’t give up mate!

26

Irvine wasn’t battered at all. He didn’t take life seriously enough to risk being battered. I miss that maniac. And others like him. On his day, Eddie was very fast.

27

I thought Eddie Irvine adapted to being No. 2 at Ferrari very well and rather enjoyed the oddness of the job.

28

Agreed. Best #2 driver ever, and he was refreshingly upfront about it. Even when he had a shot at the title, he was saying stuff like ‘if Michael was here, he’d be wiping the floor with you lot’. And he was a pretty handy driver in his own right, as I recall. He got a slap off Senna for having the sheer audacity to un-lap himself (was that at Suzuka?) and that makes him alright in my book. One of the drivers I would most like to share a bottle of whiskey with.

29

Personality is as important as speed in Formula 1. He doesn’t see himself as WC material, otherwise he wouldn’t have signed for two more years. A sign of weakness.

30

Weakness? I don’t think so. It means he’s in the game for at least two more years, during which time one of the bigger teams might (if they are suitably impressed) buy out his contract, as has happened with many drivers, many times before. A contract is just about who gets paid, really, it doesn’t actually commit anybody to anything and is easily nullified – assuming the appropriate money changes hands. For some reason, I find myself thinking about Sauber… And as for Hulk not seeing himself as World Championship material, I would be curious to know what else he told you in the conversation you evidently had… =D

31

Weakness? Why?

A contract for two more years means that he’s on the board for another two years. I hope it doesn’t happen, but a bit of bad luck for a driver or two and Hulk might find himself with an opportunity to fill a seat in a top team which in turn is an opportunity to get a permanent drive in that team.

Sure he could have been “strong” and held out for a contract that wasn’t going to be there, but unless your name is Heidfeld being without a drive is not a good way to get another drive.

32

In a ironic sort of way, Hulkenburg is lucky to get a new deal considering the money woes the team had a couple of seasons ago which could have rendered the whole team unemployed.

So in this instance it’s better to look at the brighter side considering lots of drivers dream of a chance just to get a foot into the sport.

For sure, it’s a shame Hulkenburg hasn’t got a chance in a top team if you consider some talents like Heikki, Rubens and Webber had their moments in the sun.

But as always everything happens for a reason so if life gives you lemons, all you can do is make lemonade.

33

“if life gives you lemons, all you can do is make lemonade”

This is a great quote – make the most of what u have to come out with the sweets!

Anyway if a competitive seat is available in other series e.g. Porsche I’d love to see Hulk take the plunge and switch to WEC full-time. Winning Le Mans 1st time out in such a competitive field is no mean feat.

34

Or throw them at the Ferrari garage 🙂

35

It is odd he’s never climbed onto the podium in one of the more chaotic races over the years. He was unlucky at Brazil 2012 even if it was his fault with a slightly too eager overtake attempt on Lewis.

36

As a Force India fan I am delighted with this. Hope we keep Perez to 🙂 The only other driver I wouldn’t mind seeing bought in is C-Sainz JR.

37

Strange how he get passed by top teams over and over again.

They must see something in that detailed data James mentioned on a few occasions.

38

Sebee

It has to be Hulks height that be be the reason why he’s overlooked constantly.

Beanpoles are not ergonomically suited for the modern F1 Cars especially if you have flippers for feet.

So maybe thats the prime reason why he kerps getting overlooked. Shame he is a skillful driver. But still a mid pack racer.

39

Random 79

I doubt if any bank would give VJ credit at present 😀

But with regards to Hulk yep VJ deserves a tap on the shoulder , so long as it’s not the Indian Govt Tax Dept. 😉

40

RE: Sebee

In several ways F1 could be categorized as a “genetics based competition” if you consider several factors. Genetics affecting such latent potentialities as height, weight, eyesight, base body composition/eg fast twitch muscle coordination, visual acuity. If you consider genetic code to being somewhat analogous to computer code then, perhaps, we may state that driver’s genetics is similar to the ECU and base programming of the various systems. Both, if favorable (more optimatized) from first implementation, is more likely (more upside) to succeed. Change the formula, change the range of optimal driver characteristics.

41

And yet despite being a heavy six foot guy with flippers for feet he still manages to fit in an F1 car and even drive it well.

I say give VJ some credit – He knows that it’s better to have a Hulk that can bring home the points rather than a horse jockey that can’t 🙂

42

Sebee

Its not as genetic based as “Sheldons Human Somatotype Scaling” on Olympic athletes.

Just the ergonomics of a formula one car tends to be regulated heavily by the governing body.

So that doesn’t help anyone who is taller than most F1 drivers. Space is premium & normally used to house electronic looms & whatever super secret gubbins that makes the cars performance improve.

Foot & leg room is tight Sebee, so taller you are the more the designer will be compromised Iin development.

43

So what you’re saying is that just like the Olympics, F1 is a genetics based competition?

44

Be be = has to be /kerps = keeps.

Not that I have anything against tall drivers Iit’s just compact car these days with no leg room for the 6 footers.

45

I’m still waiting for that article – cant wait to find out why he’s not rated at all. Seems a far better driver than Bottas- I guess having the boss of Mercedes as your mentor makes a bit of a difference compared with Willi Webber who’d made his money elsewhere.

46

Wow hbt you thi k rosberg is just as quick as lewis, last year was quite frankly a demolition, despite how close the points 11 wins to 5, and this season is looking like something similar,

47

Ive been saying hes no more than a top 6 driver since day 1. If you consider the 4 ahead are WC and perhaps he & Rosberg can argue for 5/6- theres no shame in that. But the media and fans in F1 are that polarised by each Overtake, or move and the fact he seems a nice guy all of a sudden hes moved up the opinion poles. I think its his decison making in close combat at times that lets him down – he can be super smart one time and do really silly things in others like Brazil 2012. When he fights other top drivers he does risk it all when he/ team are going to lose good position – he did it a few times at Sauber and I remember thinking what on earth are you doing-?The average fan will say “hey ballsy move” but a top TP will say was that really necessary

48

+2

If he was that good, other teams would have snapped him up. In the eyes of the press, nice guy = Ferrari want to sign him.

Remember Di Resta? Same thing.

Extremely average but because he was a local, he’s going to get a drive at McLaren or Ferrari, right?

49

+1 I remember Malaysia 2013 he almost caused a huge crash when Kimi was trying to go around the outside of a fast corner (think turn 4) and Hulk just kept coming across even though Kimi was right alongside. Kimi lifted otherwise there would have been an aeroplane crash

50

Merc F1 and Ferrari have passed up the Hulk………….indeed.

Perhaps having a nice but slow Rosberg Junior and a nice but slow Kimster is what those respective teams want – a No.1 driver who does all the winning and a nice but slower No.2 driver who picks up the points in his wake…………….

Conspiracy theory? No – remember Schumi and Rubino – a very definite pecking order in Maranello in those days……

51

When did Kimi spin in Hungary??

52

You’ve just qualified your statement ” nice but slow Rosberg Junior and a nice but slow Kimster”. Now it’s “Ros and Kimi are slower than their team-mates” which is a different position entirely.

53

RE HBT:

I stand by that statement. In 2015, both Kimi and Ros have been taken to the cleaners by their respective team-mates………..both Hammy and SV had at least 2 tenths in their pocket over their team-mate. Rosberg Junior’s pace in Hungary was dire, and while Hammy drove like a hooligan in Budapest, at least he didn’t lack sheer speed. As for Kimi, 1 podium out of 11 races so far is a rather poor return in relation to his team-mate………as are stupid spins/incidents in Canada, Austria and Hungary.

Both Ros and Kimi are slower than their team-mates……………….I stand by that. And I can’t see anything in the near future that will change the situation….

54

I think you’d struggle to find anyone with more than a cursory knowledge of F1 to call either Rosberg or Kimi “slow”. It’s certainly argualble that whilst the latter doesn’t have the ultimate pace of his team mate, he’s still a former WDC more than capable of bringing the car home high up the points and picking up podiums. It’s also arguable that whilst Rosberg doesn’t have the wheel-to-wheel racing skills of Hamilton he remains the only teammate Hamilton’s ever had to have out qualified him over a season, so “slow” doesn’t apply here either, even Jenson Button, the only team mate to have outscored Hamilton over a season didn’t beat him in qualifying, and as we saw last year (and this) Mercedes aren’t afraid to let these guys race either. Essentially none of your statements are bourne out by the facts.

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