Formula One driver Nico Hulkenberg has agreed to sign a new two-year deal with Force India, putting any rumours about him joining Ferrari to bed. The 28-year-old has been linked to the Italia giants in recent weeks as a replacement for Kimi Raikkonen but penned a new deal to ensure that he will continue racing for the Silverstone-based team until the end of the 2017 season.
The German spoke about the contract extension before the weekend Italian Grand Prix in Monza, admitting his happiness after committing his long-term future to Force India.
"I'm very pleased to finalise and announce my plans for the future,” Hulkenberg said. "I know this team inside out and I feel at home here so it made perfect sense to make a long-term commitment.”
"The progress the team has shown over the last two years has really impressed me and gives me confidence for the future. It's a great group of people who are hungry for success and want to keep improving year-on-year.”
He went on to add: "I think we have the important things in place going forward and I want to continue growing with this team as we move even further up the grid."
Vijay Mallya happy with Hulkenberg re-signing
Team Principal Vijay Mallya also expressed his happiness with the re-signing of Hulkenberg and admitted that the driver will help them achieve plenty of success in the future.
"I make no secret of being one of Nico's biggest fans and so it's fantastic to confirm him as our driver for the next couple of seasons. He has spent almost four years with us already and in that time we've seen him develop into one of the best racing drivers in the world.”
"Nico has the speed, the technical knowledge and the maturity to help us achieve some great results in the years ahead. We will do everything we can to continue delivering a car to match his talent."
Nico raced for Porsche and won the 24 Hours Le Mans along with Nick Tandy and Earl Bramber earlier this year. The event is a part of the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship, which is the other motorsport the German competes in besides F1. Despite the load of two major championships in the season, he is expected to be allowed by Vijay Mallya to carry on due to his good work with Force India in the past.
Hulkenberg has made a total of 86 starts in the F1 since making his first entry in the 2010 Bahrain Grand Prix. 48 of those starts have come for Force India after he joined the team in 2012, although he did have one season at Sauber before rejoining the Indian licensed team.