Silly Season Latest: Hulkenberg and Perez to Force India and Sutil to Sauber

Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg could be teammates in 2014

Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg could be teammates in 2014

Nico Hulkenberg reportedly physically signed on the dotted line of a 2014 Force India Formula 1 contract in Brazil on Sunday.

That is the claim of the normally reliable Sport Bild, as it emerged that the German had until midnight to take up an option granted recently by the Silverstone based team, for whom Hulkenberg raced last year.

The 26-year-old had joined Sauber for 2013 after Force India was late in its salary payments to the German, but it was the Swiss team that found itself in the deeper financial trouble this year.

So, in a sure sign that Lotus’ ‘Quantum’ investment deal will ultimately collapse, Hulkenberg opts for Force India, who according to Sport Bild have included a bank guarantee of €1.9 million to cover the unpaid wages of 2012.

Nico Hulkenberg versus Sergio Perez in Hungary

Nico Hulkenberg versus Sergio Perez in Hungary

It is believed that Hulkenberg’s teammate next year will not be countryman Adrian Sutil, despite Sutil hinting repeatedly in recent weeks that his is a done deal.

In fact, it is understood the experienced Sutil is taking his Medion sponsorship to Sauber. Force India’s other 2013 driver, Paul di Resta, is almost certainly leaving Formula 1.

“People are saying it’s not budget related,” the Scot told BBC’s radio Five Live, “but there are things which are. I go into the winter with my head held high.”

It seems Force India will head into 2014 with an all-new driver lineup, completed by the McLaren refugee Sergio Perez, who is bringing a reported €15 million in sponsorship, having patched up his relationship with Telmex.

Sergio Perez impressed in Brazil

Sergio Perez impressed in Brazil

McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh, having dropped Mexican Perez at the eleventh hour, has hinted that he helped to broker the deal.

“I am very happy,” Whitmarsh is quoted by the Guardian. “Lots of stuff has been written but he’s a young man who has been incredibly dignified. He is very much liked in the team, is a thoroughly likeable guy and I said to him: ‘Prove us wrong’.

“We’ve done what we can to help him out and he certainly deserves to be in Formula 1, so I’m delighted for him that we’ll see his smiling face in the paddock.”

Whitmarsh admitted that it is bittersweet that, in helping Perez, fellow Briton di Resta is apparently being pushed out of Formula 1.

“It’s a complicated sport these days and there are drivers with less talent than Paul who will be in the sport, and that’s sad,” he said.

Martin Whitmarsh with Sergio Perez and Telmex billionaire Carlos Slim

Martin Whitmarsh with Sergio Perez and Telmex billionaire Carlos Slim

The obvious conclusion of all the latest ‘silly season’ goings-on is that Pastor Maldonado, the most powerfully sponsored driver on the market, is taking his PDVSA millions to Lotus to fill the Quantum hole.

Formula 1 correspondent Heikki Kulta, of Finland’s Turun Sanomat newspaper, expects the news to be announced early this week.

Alongside Sutil, the likely occupant of the other Sauber is less clear, as team boss Monisha Kaltenborn on Sunday refused to “speculate” about the future of Mexican Esteban Gutierrez.

It appears that she was waiting for midnight, and the expiry of Hulkenberg’s Force India option. Also waiting in the wings is the Russian teenager Sergey Sirotkin.

“My sources tell me that Sauber is still waiting for Hulkenberg,” former long-time Sauber driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen, who was also managed by Hulkenberg’s agent Werner Heinz, told Germany’s  Sky television. (GMM)

Subbed by AJN.

 

  • McLarenfan

    Nico Hulkenberg should be in F1 but Adrian Sutil over Paul di Resta is not so good Paul has out performed Adrian all season.

  • Miles Long

    Makes sense with the Perez deal since there is a relationship between McLaren and Force-India (driveline)… Will Force-India go Honda as well in 2015? Would have liked to see Hulkenberg get a better ride for 2014… But he isn’t the first driver who was “forced” to drive in lesser teams!

  • captain tortuga

    The thought of Crashtor driving for Lotus disgusts me.

  • PB

    Oh well Quantum now have an easy out if the Hulk has indeed signed with Force India. Quantum were just waiting for the excuse – was the money really there. I have my own suspicions.

  • Ukwhite

    Interesting pairing, both drivers can be amazing if Force India gets the cars right. Hope the news is true. 2014 is gonna be very interesting to watch.

  • Tamburello_1994

    I would be VERY CAREFUL giving Adrian Sutil any bad news.

    I’m jus’ sayn.

  • The Pessimist

    If this turns out to be true Force India’s driver pairing would be the third strongest on the grid after Ferrari and Mercedes.

  • matthew

    @ pb I agree, I dont think the $ was ever there. lotus is screwed if they sign maldo.

  • elias

    great drivers .. force india is doing good moves…
    im glad to see Perez geting a seat…

    very interesting year is going to be for F1 in 2014..

  • James Hayden

    Can’t believe some one as talented as hulkenburg is pushed aside for money I can tell you this when he does get a good car and starts wining they will all be on the band trying to sign him and I hope he says no to those that turned him down or didn’t help his career this guy is in my opinion better than any driver on the grid time will tell if I’m right in a red bull beat vet tell easy Ferrari easy McLennan easy shame still nice if you read this blog good luck and keep chin up you will have your day to shine best wishes