German driver Nico Hulkenberg secured a return to Force India on a “multi-year deal” on Tuesday and will lead the Formula One team next year.
The 26-year-old Hulkenberg tested and raced with Force India in 2011’s and last year’s seasons before joining Sauber, where he finished 10th in this year’s drivers’ standings.
“I had to take a decision about my future, not to be left out or left without a seat and at Force India, I really felt they wanted me,” Hulkenberg said.
“The team is aiming high for next year and I believe that the experience I have gained over the years will help us achieve those goals,” Hulkenberg added in a Force India statement. “I genuinely believe we can have a competitive package in 2014.”
Paul Di Resta and Adrian Sutil were the drivers for Force India this season, but neither is sure of staying on for next year. Sergio Perez, who has lost his place at McLaren to Kevin Magnussen, is also expected to move to Force India.
“It doesn’t matter for me, I want to have a strong teammate who is challenging me and I can challenge him so we can push the team forward,” Hulkenberg said. “I know there are a few names around in the press, but it’s not my decision.”
Force India team principal Vijay Mallya has been in contact with Hulkenberg since the Malaysian Grand Prix in March and believes sealing the return of the German puts the team “in the best position to achieve those objectives and enjoy what could be our most competitive season yet.”
“When he drove for us in 2012, it became clear Nico was an exceptional talent and he has continued to impress everyone in the paddock with his strong performances this season,” Mallya said. “Having Nico in our lineup is a real statement of intent and a huge boost for everyone associated with the team.”