Force India announce Hulkenberg exit

2017 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by

Nico Hulkenberg will leave Force India at the end of 2016, the team has confirmed.

“Everybody at Sahara Force India wishes Nico well as he embarks upon a different path in Formula One,” said team co-owner Vijay Mallya.

“Having spent five years with us, Nico has become a great friend and contributed a huge amount to the team’s success. He’s an outstanding driver, who has scored more points for this team than anybody else.”

“While it’s true we will miss Nico, we respect his decision to explore fresh opportunities and it would be wrong to stand in his way.”

The team said Hulkenberg will “pursue other opportunities within Formula One”.

He is expected to announce a move to Renault for 2017. Hulkenberg hinted at the move with a post on social media earlier today.

Hulkenberg’s departure from the team leaves them with a vacancy alongside Sergio Perez for next year.

See the updated list of 2017 F1 drivers and teams

2017 F1 season

Browse all 2017 F1 season articles

Author information

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

34 comments on “Force India announce Hulkenberg exit”

  1. Hope he finally achieves something serious in F1. Renault is much better prospect in the long-term, even better than Ferrari, because it seems they really know what they’re doing: recruiting right people and setting right and realistic goals.

    Meanwhile rule changes for 2017 should suit Nico Hulkenberg much better, because drivers will be able to push more, and not save these cheese-like-tyres (at least, I hope so).

    1. I agree with you and i personally think that Perez who is very fast of course only had upper hand on Hulk on these useless tires. Most of Perez success was nursing his tires when some blip happens in race and then he cruises for 50 laps on same set. Hulkenberg will do very good in Renault if car is half decent and 2017 tires are made for pushing and not nursing.

      1. Thats very funny. Perez’s success comes from nursing tyres despite out qualifying Hulkenberg over the course of the season of course…

        1. I was talking about 50 laps or race distance and if you want me to cover your answer,YES even in qualy these tires are bs cause in many races this season drivers reported losing grip in the end of ONE freaking hot lap.

      2. Guys, I don’t want to break your hearts, but the tires will still be Pirellis. I wouldn’t expect anything better from them that what we have always had.

    2. The move to Renault is a big risk. But given the importance in modern F1 of being part of a manufacturer team with resources for in season development, it seems like a safe choice at this time. If he can bag a multi year deal, it would be good for him.

      1. I agree, it is a smart career move by Hülkenberg as he’ll be there to reap the benefits when Renault return to the sharp end of the grid. Even if they don’t, he risks little as to remain at FI would never get him anywhere else.

  2. While the expected move to Renault is a step back for now, it is difficult to see any other path that could ultimately lead Hulkenberg to the world championship title or at least race wins. He is not 20 anymore so he cannot really afford to wait for better opportunities, knowing that the chances of ending up at Ferrari or Mercedes seem pretty low at the moment. Renault / Team Enstone have been capable of great things in the past so if the manufacturer is ready to spend as much money as its richest competitors, then anything is possible in three or four years from now.

  3. I recall Nico being spoken of on reverent tones on quite a few occasions but can’t help but think he’s never been able to really grab an opportunity to shine.

    Hopefully Renault will utilise his talents positively and will prepare him a decent car for 2017 and beyond.

    I wish him well.

    Now the driver shuffling with seats open at Williams and Force India can really heat up.

  4. It is a good measure to jump from the boat before it sinks, he really deserves this seat, I hope Magnussen stays in Renault for at least next year, too bad Perez couldn’t free himself from his contract.

    1. Well the boat Force India Team Sinking in the news was there in every year, but again when the season ends, they replied with their results.. See Ya Later …

    2. Fore India has ONLY been on an upwards curve in F1!
      So don’t understand your comment at all?? (‘before it sinks…’???)
      Force India started in F1 back in 2008 where they ended 10th in the WCC.
      Since then, they have steadily gone up, 9, 7, 6, 5 and now this season even currently laying as 4th in the WCC ! Ahead of Williams, McLaren and Toro Rosso.

      That is actually very impressive!

    3. Perez wasn’t trying to free himself of his contract, he was trying to either take the option with Force India or sign with Renault for only one year in both cases.

  5. This is perhaps a sad reflection on the nature of Formula 1.

    That despite Force India having punched well above their weight over the last three seasons and having probably achieved the best points-to-pounds-spent ratio of any team on the grid this season, the economic climate of Formula 1 and nature of the sport means it is virtually impossible for a privateer team such as them to make any serious progress towards challenging the very top teams and compete for regular podiums or even wins.

    I wish Hulkenberg all the best at Renault and hope that it does turn out to be an inspired decision to switch. But I admit I will miss the Hulk-Perez dynamic at Force India – one of the best partnerships on the grid, in my opinion.

  6. It’s a good time to move. Force India will only ever be able to achieve so much with their budget, and Hulkenberg has contributed hugely to their success. However, he has stagnated there in recent months, and if he wants any chance of winning races and possibly championships in this modern era of Formula One, you need to be with a factory team, a de-facto factory team, or Red Bull.

    1. I would more say that Hulkenberg has stagnated there already a couple of years ago. He is definitely over his peak at this stage of his career. Mind you, I like the guy!
      But the best he has finished, ever, is a 4th place for Force India which was at Spa this year. Otherwise it has been 5th at best and worse in most races. Hulkenberg has never been on the podium in the entire of his career over more than 110 races. While Perez, his Force India teammate in last 3 years have been on the podium 4 times. Wondering what it is that Renault expects to get from him, as he is potentially a good driver but certainly not any great champion in the making.

  7. I bet that Pascal Whrlien, Esteban Ocon, Kevin Magnussen, Jolyon Palmer and Valtteri Bottas are all on the phone to their managers after hearing this news.

    1. Well it’s good news for Wehrlein and even better news for Ocon, isn’t it?
      Wehrlein would be the logical replacement for Hulk at FI, but Ocon can now pressure Renault and Mercedes to put him in either of “their” cars.

      If Merc won’t put im in the second FI seat, he could commit to Renault long term.

      1. @Jon – the odds are not long on Wehrlein getting the drive at FI. He could even go to Williams as they are going to lose ~$10M by dropping to 5th in the constructors and if Mercedes were to agree to a corresponding cut in what they charge for their engines…

  8. Good for him. Career never quite deliverd what was promised, but definitely good enough for a factory team. Hope this gamble pays off.

  9. Also good this will give Esteban Ocon a chance in a more competitive car, he’s the future.

  10. Funny how he pushed FI to keep Perez, now taking up the opportunity at Renault himself.

    Never really been a fan of Force India, but they won me over with their driver pairing of Hülkenberg and Perez.
    I can’t really see them keeping that fourth place in the championship next year, given the legal issues their owner is facing and their limited budget.
    I rather fear a decline for them like we’ve seen with Lotus from the end of 2014 onwards which left the Enstone squad a “really run down”, as described by Bob Bell I think.

    Now Hulk joins that team, possibly leaving FI at the right moment.
    A really interesting prospect for 2017 to see how the two teams fair against each other.

  11. In my opinion Hulkenberg was one of the most exciting talents in F1 in his early years at Force India, Williams and Sauber. I still recall his faultless defense against Hamilton and Alonso in Korea while driving for Sauber. Lately he has shown only flashes of his former self, looking a bit down of not getting promoted. Still he has great pace, especially in qualifying, but Perez simply has taken some of the spotlight away from him. He has however, been hit by bad luck on multiple occasions. In Monaco he was better than Perez, yet got a worse strategy. In Singapore he made an amazing start which could have given him a great result. Instead he got caught up in a collision caused by Verstappens clutch issue. Hopefully Hulkenberg recovers some of his form, and get the machinery he deserves.

  12. This move has the hallmarks of Jenson’s move to Honda in 2005. Bright star, getting upstaged by newer rookies (Fernando, Kimi in case of Jenson; Perez, Ricciardo, Verstappen in case of Hulkenburg) and losing his status in front of team bosses slowly and then makes a move to a struggling team with a big name (Honda in case of Jenson; Renault in case of Hulkenburg).
    The only way this move will yield wins or championship if a freak like Brawn GP happens to Hulkenburg.

    1. Jenson did not move to Honda in 2005, he was already with BAR and by racking up podiums in 2004 he was still considered as a hot prospect.

      1. Totally agree – the pedigree of Button and Hulkenberg is totally different!
        Button was at the time at Brawn already a confirmed F1 race winner and a multiple podium finisher.
        Button had previously finished as 3rd in the WDC – Hulkenberg has still to finish as 3rd even in a single race.

      2. @matthijs
        Yep, so “hot prospect” that McLaren never went for him, even though Jenson had his first F1 experience with them back in 1999 and he was available in 2002, 2005 and 2008, but instead they opted for Raikkonen, Montoya and Kovalainen. OMG, what Ross Brawn did to a real mediocrity…

        1. Yes of course @sakis. Mediocre drivers get to win world championships and stay in F1 for seventeen seasons dont they! How many World Championships do Montoya and Kovalainen have…. I suppose finishing ahead of Hamilton on points was a mediocre performance as well. What utter rubbish.

          1. Lol, e.g. Keke Rosberg won the 1982 Championship but that doesn’t mean he deserved it. Far from it. The same thing goes for 2009 championship. So, next time, use your logic and your mind to see and judge the facts, not your emotion.

  13. Perfect move for Hulkenberg, he’s not going to get a works drive anywhere else. For Renault’s side they get a world class, F3, GP2 and Le Mans winning driver to lead their team. They need a much better car though.

  14. As a fan of FI, I wish Nico all the best, it’s not a bad move for him assuming Renault are prepared to stay the course and spend the necessary amount of cash for several more years.

  15. I’m not sure I like this move from Hülkenberg. It’s likely Force India will be stronger next season, and I guess they will still be ahead in 2018. Of course Renault is a factory team, but to be honest I don’t see the potential that for instance Mercedes had in 2010, Red Bull in 2008 or Renault in 2002. I would have loved to see him with Force India in 2017 and then make the switch to endurace racing. Nonetheless, I wish him all the best.

  16. I think he’ll end his career at Renault, maybe podium-less.

    I don’t see it being a quick route to the top for Renault. The facilities at Enstone are good but not great (I’ve toured them) and need investment. The question is, do Renault have the money (something in the order of 200m/year) to buy in talent while also heavily developing their engine/chassis technology?

  17. Hopeless decision for Renault – but a life saver for HUL who didn’t show anything against PER…what a leader for the Renault lol can’t wait to see their 2.driver…OCO..scandal then…

Comments are closed.