Force India retain Hulkenberg for 2015

2015 F1 season

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Nico Hulkenberg will stay at Force India for a third season with the team in 2015.

Hulkenberg, who was previously said to have a “multi-year deal” with the team, was confirmed on Monday a part of the team’s line-up for next season.

Hulkenberg joined Force India as a test driver in 2011 after losing his seat at Williams. He was promoted to their race team in 2012.

After switching to Sauber last season, Hulkenberg rejoined Force India this year and is the team’s leading points scorer, currently holding eighth place in the championship.

Team principal Vijay Mallya said Hulkenberg has “done a tremendous job this year by consistently picking up crucial championship points”.

“We rate him very highly,” Mallya added. “We know him extremely well: he’s a true racer and he knows how to motivate the team. I am convinced he is one of the best talents on the grid and I am proud that he will continue to race in the colours of Sahara Force India.”

Force India are enjoying one of their most competitive campaigns so far. They are sixth in the constructors’ championship, 20 points behind McLaren.

“The team has big ambitions and I believe we can have a competitive package once again next year,” said Hulkenberg.

“We have a strong partner in Mercedes and everyone in the team is motivated and hungry for more success. I have a good feeling for 2015 and there is a lot to be excited about as we try to build on the results we have achieved this year.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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72 comments on “Force India retain Hulkenberg for 2015”

  1. A good move for both sides. Force India retain a driver who could easily be in one of the top eight cars given different circumstances. Hulkenberg gets arguably the best available car and, surprisingly, stays with a team for a consecutive season to build on his previous work.

    Interesting that there is no news coupling this regarding Perez… is that already a done deal that I’ve missed?

    1. The 2015 driver guide on this site says he has a contract.

      1. but contracts are meant to be broken

      2. There was a rumour that Force India were due to announce Perez in Mexico “at the end of the month” (October). It did seem that both Perez and Hulkenberg had contracts that were one year plus an option.

    2. @ben-n As with Hulkenberg and as @beneverard alluded to, Perez was said to have a “multi-year deal” when he signed at the end of last year. I suspect it’s an option both sides will be happy to take up. Hulkenberg has been the better of the two over the season so far but Perez is clearly settling in and raising his game – he beat Hulkenberg in four of the last five races:

      1. @keithcollantine – I think it’s a great line-up to be honest and suits every party. It’s a great place to drive whilst waiting for a top seat and in turn, Force India get two top drivers for as long as they can; furthering their own cause as a top team.

        Unfortunately the pace has gone off the boil recently; a problem which Hulkenberg, much like Alonso or Hamilton, has usually been able to drive around. Perez has clearly been the better of the two since the summer break.

    3. @ben-n Agreed, I think Hulk needs to show he can perform in the same team for two years in a row, against the same teammate. Hulk’s had a tough time of late with Perez out performing him, so it’ll be interesting to see if Hulkenberg can fight back against him. I think another year will show his worth 100%. Also, it’ll either make or break Perez, if he can hold his own against a ‘settled’ Hulkenberg or not. I think it’ll be a very interesting battle.

    4. I hope I won’t see the comments that he is switching teams all the time again … people always seem to forget that he was at FI in both 2011 and 2012 already.

      Good for him, I’m hoping for a Vettel-Hulkenberg line-up in 2016 :)

    5. i recall perez having a ‘multi-year-contract’ for mclaren aswell, and he got sacked after one year. i’m pretty sure force india will have the same line-up next year, hulkenberg and perez

  2. Hulkenberg has hit some average form lately, but I still think he and Perez make one of the strongest driver pairings on the grid.

    1. Chris (@tophercheese21)
      20th October 2014, 11:42

      Statistically, he’s having the best season of his career, but he’s been rather anonymous all year. There hasn’t really been any huge standout DOTW-type performances this year.

  3. I’m really sad in a way. I’m glad Nico will be retaining A seat in F1 next year, but, I think he’s missed the boat. I hope I am wrong as despite some of his latest average performances, he’s very capable of doing so much more in motorsport. Lets hope that FI have a surperb year next year and he’s able to showcase his talent in the odd race.

    1. @dragoll Jenson Button & Mark Webber both spent many years in middling cars before finally striking lucky… Some drivers are just unlucky or late bloomers!

    2. Surely he’s waiting for Kimi to retire? Assuming that the Ferrari line-up next year is Vettel-Raikkonen… that will likely be Kimi’s last year. It makes sense for Hulkenberg to stay put for another year and see the situation again then.

      For me, this also suggests that the moves amongst the top teams are done and dusted, if not announced.

      The next Ferrari driver following Kimi was, in my eyes, always between Hulkenberg and Bianchi, and unfortunately it’s looking like one of those contenders has been removed from the race.

      I can see an all German Ferrari line-up in 2016…

      1. @ben-n @optimaximal I can see your points of view, however, I don’t think Ferrari would take Hulk in 2016 with so many new drivers floating about at half the cost, and potentially the same talent. Besides, I think Vettel might try to build Ferrari around him, so a HULK may not fit into that little nest.

        1. @dragoll

          But who? I’ve never seen Ferrari take a rookie in recent memory (happy to be corrected!) and of the current grid, surely Hulkenberg is the only real option. Perhaps Perez might be considered. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hamilton in a Ferrari one day, but I can’t see Vettel wanting him in the same team.

          1. @ben-n I think Bottas would be in the prime position for Ferrari seat in 2016. He won’t be a rookie by then, but have enough potential to do the job.

          2. @dragoll
            Yes – I could potentially see that!

            Unfortunately I think Bianchi would hahve been a perfect fit in 2016… looks unlikely to happen though.

          3. @ben-n Yes I agree with the Bianchi thought as well… I hope Jules does make a great recovery and prove us both wrong.

          4. @dragoll Bottas is firmly embedded in the Mercedes and/or Williams camp, given he’s managed by Toto Wolff.

          5. Perez seems to have been quietly dropped from the Ferrari reckoning. Bianchi is unlikely to be in the picture anymore (hope I’m wrong).

            The next Ferrari rookie is Marciello, who looks too inconsistent to be in the running for a Ferrari drive in the next two seasons. He looks promising one race, then has a silly crash the next (kind of similar to Bianchi’s GP2 career at times). I think he would need another season in GP2 and a season or two in a team at the lower end of the grid.

          6. @sharoncom: Perez lost Ferrari’s support when he moved to McLaren, as far as I know.

          7. Would Ferrari take Perez after he traded them for Mclaren?

        2. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
          20th October 2014, 10:44

          @dragoll – I don’t mean to be so crude for lack of a better word, but I think Ferrari’s first choice to replace Kimi was Bianchi, and I think he’s out of contention for obvious reasons now. Who else could Ferrari bring in? Bottas and Hulkenburg seem to be the top 2 younger drivers who aren’t RB junior drivers.

          1. @braketurnaccelerate I do think Bottas will be in the box seat come 2016. He will be a better proposition, and… I think the Red Bull driver program has a bit of a glut of talent atm that even they can’t deal with, so we might see someone like a Ricciardo pop out earlier than anticipated, as I think that RBR will have a terrible 2015.

          2. Can you imagine Ricciardo going to Ferrari? How annoyed would Vettel be at that!?

          3. Ferrari 2016 drivers will be Vettel & Hulk IMO

        3. @dragoll It’s not like Hulkenberg is madly expensive – his pay was delayed by both Force India and Sauber. To be honest, he’s probably one of the best drivers available for a comparative pittance – same with Ricciardo, and hence RB can now plough another $10m+ into the 2015 car by offloading Vettel’s wage bill. Ferrari could easily do the same with Raikkonen, and Bottas is outshining Massa in the same situation.

          1. *The main point being that these two works teams need to further invest if they want a chance of catching Mercedes. If the engines are a disadvantage, then their cars need to be better.

      2. That’s all assuming Ferrari can build a fast car…

        I wonder if Williams will be the team in demand in a year’s time, and that Hulkenberg could find his way back there, if he hasn’t burnt his bridges. But that’s a big assumption too – that they can make two good cars in a row, which hasn’t happened for yonks – and his choice of number 27 does hint where his ambitions lie!

        1. @bullfrog Boullier makes a great argument which I think echoes why I don’t think Williams would be a great team in years to come… Boullier says that the only way you can with the WDC and WCC is not through customer engines.

          1. Technically Red Bull were not the Renault works team for many of their WCCs. Being brutal, I think Williams need to rid themselves of Massa in order to take a shot at the WCC.

          2. I may be mistaken, but more championships have been won with customer engines than factory engines. The last time a factory engine won the WDC and the WCC (before Sochi anyway) was Ferrari in ’07.

          3. @dragoll He would say that, wouldn’t he…but it’s a very good point. All Williams’ shots at the title (early Cosworth-powered ones aside) have been as the works Honda, Renault or BMW team.

            Even with a quick and consistent Williams pair of Bottas and Hulkenberg, would they have the equipment to beat Hamilton, Vettel and Ricciardo regularly? Susie can nag Toto as much as she likes, but they’ll never get the very best, latest Mercedes updates first.

            They’ll probably get them before Force India, though.

          4. @raceprouk: it’s not so much being an official works team per se. There are those teams that get the most attention and that’s where you want to be.

            Just look at the past 10 years, and I’m quickly going by the WDC for now as that is the appeal for the drivers (and the topic of this discussion I think):
            – Schumacher-era: Ferrari
            – Alonso’s two titles: Renault
            – Raikkonen: Ferrari
            – Hamilton: McLaren was not the official works team but was undoubtedly the team Mercedes put most effort in
            – Vettel: same story, not the official works team but pretty much the unofficial, they did get the most attention
            – Hamilton/Rosberg now: Mercedes

            It so happens that the teams with the biggest budgets have the status of works team, official or unofficial: Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari. And unsurprisingly these are the best teams for each of the different engines.

            Williams will be in demand because they are a good running team and they might have a shot at some race wins here and there. And that would be a great prospect for someone like Hulkenberg. But for those driving for Mercedes, Red Bull or Ferrari, they would always want to be in the works team.

          5. Exactly. This is now an engine formula and you won’t win as a customer. Which is why Alonso only had 3 teams in his reckoning really – Ferrari, Merc and McLaren. Red Bull are having to step in and manage the Renault effort themselves which is not where you want to be really.

        2. I think the bridge-burning was from both directions.

        3. I doubt it. The only reason Williams are competitive is due to the fact that they invested a lot of their money & time into this season. And they have a Merc engine. I expect their next season to be a bit like 2010. Not bad but not good either. At least for Massa.

      3. Given Bianchi’s situation, I can see Raikkonen remaining with Ferrari until 2016 now rather than retiring at the end of next year. Bianchi was a shoe-in to partner Vettel for 2016, but circumstances would suggest that won’t be happening now. Raikkonen has an option of an extra year on top of his two-year deal, and he suggested he could remain with them until 2016.

        Their only other option I can think of would be Bottas (I don’t see Ferrari ever signing Hulkenberg). Although I think Bottas will wait for a Mercedes seat to become available, so it will be unlikely.

      4. Unfortunately for Hulkenberg, Kimi might not be retiring from Ferrari as soon as he might hope. Kimi has now indicated that although his contract expires in 2015, it contains an option clause that would allow him to extend it to 2016 and he seems to be actively considering taking up that contract extension.

        1. Yes but will Ferrari want to sign an extension. For 2015 there is nothing they can do. If they show him the door they will once again have to pay huge money for him to sit around and party or maybe even joining another team and their pride won’t allow that after they paid him last time not to drive for them.
          2016 is an option though. That means is not a tight contract and they don’t have to pay anything to show him the door.

  4. All the Hulkenberg hype from earlier this season has been doused by Perez’s performances recently. Still an impressive driver but hasn’t stood out for a while.

    1. A while being 4 or 5 races. When the FI was on top condition, he showed Perez the way.

  5. why does everyone keep saying that Alonso will take a sabbatical move and being forced to sit out 2015 season when I believe he is going to Mercedes and Lewis is going to McLaren.

    1. Because Alonso has already confirmed he’s not going to a Merc-powered team. He therefore only has one realistic option: McLaren-Honda. And that’s if they even want him.

      1. Surely if the reports are true that Lewis is heading to his former team then I believe he will be going to Mercedes

        1. @william There no such reports. There are only wild speculative rumours, throwing lots of “what if’s” in to the air. The rumours involving the most interesting drivers are the one’s which people begin – for whatever reason – to call ‘reports’.

          1. I have seen reports/sources telling me that Lewis visited the Woking factory quite some time ago. So no I am not making it up

          2. You may not be making it up, but I bet you anything your ‘sources’ are, all just to get clicks and ad revenue. And you fell for it.

        2. Alonso isn’t going to Mercedes. Get that out of your head :P

          1. we should shall find out very soon

          2. I can confirm u at 100% that Alonso is already signed with McLaren and will race for them next year. Hamilton also has renew its contract. Its not official yet, but will be official before next sunday.

        3. @william is your “wish” makining you “believe” Alonso will be at Mercedes next year?

          1. @Alex – But he signed with Honda instead of McLaren – according to Ten’s Tom Clarkson.
            @jcost – I don’t think it is a ‘wish’, I think its more of a reality but people think otherwise

    2. Has Vettel’s move to Ferrari been confirmed by Ferrari? Has Alonso’s move from Ferrari been confirmed by Ferrari? Seems its all based on guesses, assumptions and “leaks” at this point, nothing confirmed from either driver or the team.

      For all we know, Vettel could be going to McLaren and Alonso is staying put!

      1. It will be announced at Austin for Sebastian Vettel

  6. Unfortunately the events of three weeks ago has made Hulkenberg to obvious candidate to replace Raikkonen a year from now, albeit Nico needs to try and refind some of his early season form if he is to seal the deal, although Force India slipping to being the seventh (behind Toro Rosso) team hasn’t helped his case.

    As for the lack of announcement regarding Perez, it is probably nothing to be read into, but I do hope the delay is something to do with Stoffel Vandoorne.

    1. Raikkonen has not confirmed that he will retire, he said his last team will be Ferrari, but he also added that this may be not his last contract, that he may be renew, depends on how things going. That the history that he will retire in 1 year comes from the press.

      1. If he compares well to Vettel he may well renew, but as I state in my reply to @deej92, I am beginning to think a renewal is unlikely at Raikkonen’s age and when there is a talent like Hulkenberg ready and waiting. A mere opinion I admit, but I think a valid one.

    2. I can’t see Perez not being retained to be honest. He’s been driving very well this season and his form has picked up as Hulkenberg’s has slumped. He also brings the team a lot of sponsors. I don’t think there is any need to replace either driver.

      Regarding Hulkenberg to Ferrari, I can’t see it happening. I think Bianchi’s situation means that Ferrari will keep Raikkonen for an extra year in 2016 (performance depending). Maybe after that it could happen, but it’s difficult to predict for that far ahead.

      1. @deej92 – I agree that Sergio is fine for now, since McLaren will likely slot Vandoorne in at Marussia, but twelve months from now the pressure from Merhi, Juncadella and Wehrlein might be to much to bare for Checo (albeit a Mercedes subsidized Caterham drive in 2015 for Merhi might reduce the list of threats to two).

        Regarding Hulkenberg to Ferrari, I see no other course of action for Ferrari, because it is not like Ferrari have a track record of parachuting young drivers like Marciello from the junior categories. And why would Ferrari renew the contract of the oldest driver on the grid in 2015 when there is a talent like Hulkenberg ready and waiting? I see Ferrari fielding a Vettel-Hulkenberg line up for a long term since it would be both experienced but also devastatingly talented.

        The only dangerman to that prophecy is Grosjean, but even though his career has had some mighty impressive peaks and is looking set for an infinitely more competitive 2015, has he really shown the potential Nico has? Nico is currently a victim of “being as good as your last race”, with Hulkenberg’s current stock damaged by qualifying setup issues and an underdeveloped car, but there is true frontrunner potential there, have no doubt.

        1. @William-brierty I agree, there’ll be pressure on both Force India drivers next season. Mind, I think Mercedes will be looking to Lotus to place a driver they want for FP1s or a race seat before Force India. I see Lotus becoming quite Mercedes-y with the Petronas sponsorship and I assume three-pointed star will appear on the car (as that extra exposure has been lost with McLaren’s move to Honda). So I think Force India will have a bit more freedom with who they choose for 2016.

          Regarding Hulkenberg-Ferrari, what partly makes me think Ferrari won’t opt for Hulkenberg is they had that chance 12 months ago but they instead went for Raikkonen (a disappointing move and probably the wrong one). I know they dumped Raikkonen for Alonso then brought him back, but I think they must have seen something to be put off by Hulkenberg, as McLaren must have in 2012. At the moment the options for 2016-2017 seem quite limited. Raikkonen, Hulkenberg, Bottas, Ricciardo?

        2. As we’re talking of Perez, there are now rumours that he is in the frame for a Lotus seat. That could be the reason he wasn’t announced at the same time as Hulkenberg. So it could be something to read into after all. We’ll keep an eye on it anyway.

  7. i always imagined that hulkenberg would end up with ferrari but with vettel going there i’m not so sure… can anyone see ferrari having an all-german line up?

    1. I was expecting Alonso to say for 2015, then moving after to allow HUL and/or BIA to join in 2016. Now I’m not sure either will happen.

  8. Alonso is signed with honda for 3 years… honda will have number 1 driver , mclaren will have number 2 driver

    1. I hope its true that Alonso has signed with Honda and can have his pick over the 3 years of whichever honda partner has the best chassis. Because that would add a new and very very entertaining dimension to F1.

  9. Ferrari should have signed him last year… this is stupid, the guy’s won every junior formula there is, put a Williams Cosworth on pole, endless giant killing performances, this year he’s still ahead of Kimi, Felipe, K-Mag and his team mate in the championship. I admit Nico might lack the extra spark of a champion but I’d literally bet all my money he can win a few races, easily. At the very least he’s be a brilliant number 2, super consistent.

  10. Giedo van der Garde will become a full time driver next year at presumably Sauber replacing either Sutil or Gutierrez (which both deserve to get chopped)

  11. I feel Hulk did himself a lot of damage at Brazil 2012. Got into the lead and made two big errors in car control. That took him out of the very top tier and leaves him as a fast driver who’s a bit big and heavy with no money.

    At the same time I suspect he was a bit too fast and feisty for McLaren to want him alongside Button, at least for Whitmarsh’s taste. I don’t think I can agree with @jmc200 that he could be a No2, I don’t think he has the temperament for it.

    I just hope he doesn’t go stale now at FI. Must be hard though.

  12. Good for FI. Hulk and Perez both drove well this season deserve the drive. Also think Ferrari will have same driver line Vettel and Kimi for 2015-16, I think Vettel would prefer Kimi over any other driver as team mate.

  13. 2015 Silly Season Update 1: LMP1/LMP2 – Sportscar365

    First I’ve heard of any Hulkenberg-to-Porsche rumours. I’d love to see a top driver do Le Mans in the middle of an F1 season though.

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