By Adam Tate, Associate Editor
Nico Hulkenberg has reportedly signed a 2017 race contract that will see him move from his long time home of Sahara Force India, to the bright yellow cars of Renault.
The much speculated move has finally come into the light as both Hulkenberg and Renault seek to build a partnership that will move them up the Formula One grid and into championship contention in several seasons’ time.
Hulkenberg’s contract is good through 2018, with an option for 2019 that will likely be taken up, as the 29 year old German hopes driving for a manufacturer team will finally deliver him the podiums and race wins that have proven so elusive throughout his solid, and occasionally spectacular career.
Nico’s former team, Force India has been gracious and full of praise for the talented German as he moves on.
“Everybody at Force India wishes Nico well as he embarks upon a different path in Formula 1. 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,” said team owner Vijay Mallya.
His new team is excited for the possibilities Hulkenberg can bring them, and Renault Sport’s Chairman Jerome Stoll was glowing about their new driver. “2017 will be the second season of Group Renault’s return as a manufacturer entry in Formula 1 and the next step in our journey. This season has been about putting the foundations in place for future success. For our next step we required an experienced driver who is still hungry for podiums. Nico Hulkenberg fulfills this role perfectly and is an excellent complement to what we want to achieve. He is a highly talented, dedicated and motivated driver. Nico will enable us to harness all the hard work completed this season and translate it to improved results on track in 2017 and beyond. We look forward to seeing him in our new car for 2017.”
Expect an intense competition for the second Renault seat between 2016 drivers Kevin Magnussen, Joylon Palmer, and Manor driver Esteban Ocon. Ocon is also at the top of Force India’s list as they look for a replacement for Hulkenberg.