01/11/2012

Preferring cheese over curry!

So you guys have probably heard the news about Nico Hulkenberg joining Swiss team Sauber rather than staying at Sahara Force India, if not, read about the story here.

We thought we'd give you our thoughts on this pretty big news:

Darshan Chokhani
The news of Hulkenberg moving to Sauber doesn't surprise me at all. Ever since we got the news of Perez moving to McLaren, it was widely speculated that Hulk is on his way out. At first it was shocking to me reading all those things but after giving it some thought, I realised that it will be a long term move for him and it perhaps doesn't have to do with the car or performance in 2012. We have already seen that both Sauber & Force India have been fairly competitive and so according to me car is out of question.

The reasons I think are, firstly Sauber has close relation with Ferrari and so this might be best for Hulk to drive a Ferrari-powered car in 2013, familiarise with the handling and then move into Ferrari for 2014 or 2015. Ferrari never wanted to change drivers in 2013 as far as I know and that's why Perez wasn't considered, they might have taken him in 2014 but as he moved to McLaren, the next best driver to drive for Ferrari among young drivers was Hulkenberg. So, this could be a tactical and long term future move for Hulk. Another reason might be the financial problems at Force India and bit extra PR work drivers have to do in India. Though I don't think this reason was the main one but it might have contributed somewhat.

Anyways, it is indeed a big loss to the team as he has been superb for us. I wish him all the best for next season and the final 3 races with the team. As for the seats at SFI, I feel di Resta will more likely stay but the other seat will see a great off-track fight among Sutil, Jamie, Buemi, Bianchi, Heikki. I won't pick any one driver here, let it be confirmed and we all will know.

Peter Santamaria-Woods
We've been hearing about Nico potentially moving to Sauber for weeks now, however, unlike Darshan, i didn't believe the roomers. As it turns out, i was wrong.

It's not a move up the grid for Nico though - Sauber have a similar car in terms of points scored over the course of a season. It is a fact that Nico did have a contract for 2013 with Sahara Force India. This means that Sauber must have bought him out of that contract to sign him. No offence to Sauber here, but i just can't see a relatively small privateer team like Sauber buying out a contract, especially when there are many equally talented drivers available who are not under contract. What i think has happened is that Nico signed a deal to race for Ferrari in 2014. Then Ferrari bought out his 2013 contract to put him in the Ferrari-powered Sauber car. This would be beneficial for Nico as he can get used to the Ferrari engine over the course of 2013.

What does this now mean for Sahara Force India? Well, first thing to say is that we wish Nico Hulkenberg the very best of luck at Sauber. He's been a solid driver for us, let's hope he has a good end to 2012.

As for next season, Paul di Resta is already confirmed. Seat #2 could be taken by many drivers though. Reserve driver Jules Bianchi is probably the favourite after a great season in Formula Renault 3.5. Other options include; S├ębastien Buemi & Heikki Kovalainen.

Additionally, our ex-driver Adrian Sutil could be an option. I have to admit to another mistake here, but i also have to be careful of my wording - can't disclose too much. A very reliable source told me he is "100% certain" that Adrian Sutil did have a contract for 2013 with another team (not SFI). I then asked someone else who also worked for that team, and they also confirmed this to me. This deal was signed at the end of 2011, for 2013. However the team in question decided to go a different way after other developments in the driver market - so they cancelled Adrian's 2013 contract. What this means is that Adrian is now much richer after his contract pay off, and also that he is available for 2013. Could he make a return to Sahara Force India?

One other driver in contention is Jamie Alguersuari. I'm pretty sure he will be part of Sahara Force India in 2013, but my instinct is telling me he'll only be a reserve driver. I could be wrong though, let's see.

My opinion? If the driver line-up decision was mine to make - i would take a look at a driver who has yet to be strongly linked with the seat; Charles Pic. He's impressed me a lot this season - often matching/beating his more much more experienced teammate Timo Glock. I'm sure the team are aware Charles is available - let's see what happens.

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