Sahara Force India has finally confirmed the not unexpected news that Nico Hulkenberg has been promoted from his third driver role to partner Paul Di Resta in 2012.
Dr Vijay Mallya waited until the day after the team’s Xmas party – which he signalled as a deadline some time ago – before making the news public. No third driver has been named as yet.
Mallya said: “In Paul and Nico we have two extremely talented drivers with tremendous potential.
“I think Paul caught the eye of everybody in the pit lane during his rookie season. His speed, maturity and racecraft confirmed that we were right to believe in him and we look forward to working with him again next year.
“As for Nico, we identified him as a rising star at the end of 2010 and chose to evaluate him during the course of this season. Despite having only limited time in the car, he convinced us that he deserved a race seat for 2012.
“Our new line-up means we say ‘goodbye’ to Adrian Sutil, who has been with the team since we entered the sport. He has been an integral part of our success over the past four seasons and we wish him well for the future.”
Hulkenberg has had to be content with Friday FP1 sessions this year after being dropped by Williams at the end of last season.
Hulkenberg said: “I’m obviously delighted to be staying with Sahara Force India and to be given the chance to race next year. It wasn’t easy to watch from the sidelines this season, but I did my best to help the team and show what I was capable of.
“I’m extremely motivated for 2012 and would like to thank everyone for believing in me and giving me this chance. I’m keen to get down to work over the winter to develop our new car and help the team build on this year’s achievements. The first test in Jerez can’t come soon enough.”
Adrian Sutil, who finished ninth in the 2011 World Championship, is thus by co-incidence relying on landing a seat at Williams. However he faces stiff competition given that several other drivers, including some with budgets, are now on the market.