Nico Hülkenberg will remain part of the Force India F1 Team’s driver line-up for the 2016 and 2017 seasons, the team has announced today.
The 28-year-old German is in his second stint with the Silverstone-based squad, rejoining it in 2014 having spent the 2013 season with Sauber. He also drove for Force India in 2011 and 2012, serving as a test driver in the first of those seasons.
“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,” he is quoted as saying.
Hülkenberg is widely considered to be one of the most exceptionally talented drivers on the grid yet to have his skills recognised with an offer to drive in one of the ‘big teams’ – Ferrari, Red Bull Racing or McLaren – although he was one of a number of candidates linked with taking over Kimi Räikkönen’s seat at Ferrari until the Italian team decided to re-sign the Finn.
He also shot to prominence in June by becoming the first actively racing Formula 1 driver to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans since 1991, winning the iconic endurance race at his first attempt in a widely-lauded guest outing with the Porsche LMP1 team.
With the 2016 driver line-ups set to remain stable across a number of teams, Hülkenberg will follow suit and spend another season at Force India, with whom he has claimed thirty points’ finishes in 48 races to-date. It was the team’s ongoing improvement in form which was one of the key factors in his decision to stay on, he says.
“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,” he added.
“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.”
Team boss Vijay Mallya was equally excited to retain his lead driver.
“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. 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,” he added.
“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.”
The team is expected to shortly announce a stable driving line-up by confirming that Hülkenberg’s teammate, Sergio Pérez, will be retained as well.
Image via Sahara Force India F1 Team