Hulkenberg not paid at all this year by Sauber but may stay with them for 2014

Nico Hulkenberg may have to rely on Sauber for a lifeline to remain in F1 beyond 2013

Nico Hulkenberg may have to rely on Sauber for a lifeline to remain in F1 beyond 2013

Hanging onto his Sauber seat is perhaps the only chance highly rated Nico Hulkenberg has of staying in Formula 1 beyond 2013.

Almost signed by Ferrari, and earlier linked to McLaren, the German has also come close to a move to Lotus for 2014.

The latter option now appears off the table, as the Enstone based team’s finances falter and bosses look to the lucratively-backed Pastor Maldonado to plug the holes in the budget.

“Every career is different,” Hulkenberg told Formula 1’s official website on Saturday, “and mine seems to be as it is now with a few different teams, with a bit of movement, with a bit of nail biting.”

Indeed, after capturing pole in the 2010 finale as a rookie, Williams let Hulkenberg go – again because of Maldonado’s millions.

Nico Hulkenberg celebrates pole at the 2010 Brazilian GP

Nico Hulkenberg celebrates pole at the 2010 Brazilian GP

“It definitely was a bad experience,” he recalled, “how it all happened. Of course you then have that in the back of your mind and get more suspicious of what people tell you because I have been lied to, to my face.”

Hulkenberg sat out 2011 as Force India’s reserve driver, and returned to the grid last year. He then moved to Sauber for 2013, and to this date Force India still owes him money, according to the Swiss newspaper Blick.

The Sauber story hasn’t been much better for Hulkenberg, despite several occasions when his undoubted talent was able to shine through.

World Champion and countryman Sebastian Vettel said that it is a travesty that Hulkenberg is yet again waiting to be paid.

“It’s a shame he doesn’t have a car [for 2014] yet,” Vettel is quoted by DPA news agency, “because he is one of the fastest drivers in the field.

Nico Hulkenberg in Abu Dhabi

Nico Hulkenberg in Abu Dhabi

“It’s a difficult time for some teams in Formula 1,” he added, “but also for some drivers. [Hulkenberg] is yet to get a penny,” Vettel claimed.

Monisha Kaltenborn, Sauber team boss, refused to comment on Vettel’s assertion that Hulkenberg has not been paid at all in 2013.

“I do not feel compelled to comment on everything that is said in the paddock,” she insisted.

The fact that Hulkenberg and Sauber do not want to get into a Raikkonen-Lotus-style spat could be a sign that the relationship will continue into 2014. Hulkenberg confirmed that possibility.

“Yes,” he said when asked if he can imagine staying at the Swiss team. And “I think so,” the 26-year-old added when asked if Sauber can imagine keeping him.

“Why not? For now we are having a good go. The spirit is up.” (GMM)

Subbed by AJN.

  • captain tortuga

    If Lotus has to take a below-par driver like crashtor, i really stop watching f1. That would be the last drop.

    it is ridiculous, that guys like Robin Frijns, Nico Hulkenberg, or other unmatched talents, are surpassed in the race for a drive, because of f@ck-ups like Maldonado who bring an alleged 41 million!

    I am willing to accept that some drivers have to bring some money, and that that’s part of the game called F1, but when ‘one-in-a-million’ talents are getting put on the sidelines due to lack of sponsor-money, it just means that F1 is dead. For sure it is already on the slope, and it is moving down the drain in rapid pace.

  • Resultant Asteroid

    Forget about the fact that somebody needs to convince to Maldonado that he is driving because of his money not because of his talents (yeah, good luck with that) …

    Forget about the fact that almost every F1 expert and fan agree that Hulkenberg is a v talented and fast driver and deserves a seat in a big team …

    Forget about the fact that if Lotus choose Maldonado’s money, it will be the second time he does it to Hulkenberg (clearly Hulkenberg is more calm and realistic about it than us) …

    My biggest worry is, if Maldonado is in Lotus next year, and they deliver a car as competitive as this year’s, and judging by his driving and the number of crashes he caused to other drivers last year (when Williams had just a midfield, semi-competitive car) … I’m worried Maldonado can cause crashes and accidents to the front rows cars next year, especially with his Whoever-tries-to-pass-me-ends-with-an-early-shower attitude.

    I really hope I’ll be wrong, because otherwise we’ll add “surviving Maldonado” as another key factor to F1, next to having a competitive car, managing the tyres, being good with the media, … etc. And it won’t be about who’s fastest as much as it will be about who’s luckiest :-S

  • Spartacus

    McLaren should sign him if they’re not going to sign Magnussen. There should be at least one empty seat at McLaren.

  • Hawk

    True dat. Very dangerous to have Pastor up there. Grosjean cost people a lot of points last year.

  • Fletcher

    Haters, How many accidents did Maldonado cause THIS year?