Finally Formula 1's worst kept secret has been made official. Nico Hulkenberg will partner Paul Di Resta at Force India in 2012. The decision to replace Adrian Sutil with Hulkenberg had apparently been taken months ago before Sutil's extremely impressive end to the season. There had even been some speculation the reason the announcement wasn't made at the Abu Dhabi grand prix as planned, was that Force India were trying to keep Sutil and back out of Hulkenberg's recent signed contract.
Hulkenberg a former GP2 champion made his mark in Formula 1 by getting pole position in changeable conditions at the Brazilian grand prix last year for Williams. However money talked and Williams listened and replaced Hulkenberg with a man he had beaten the year before as a team mate in GP2, the latest GP2 champion Pastor Maldonado. Hulkenberg ended up at Force India, testing on Friday mornings and has impressed the team sufficiently now to get a full time seat.
Talking about his team pairing for next year, Team boss Vijay Mallya:"I think Paul caught the eye of everybody in the pitlane during his rookie season. His speed, maturity and racecraft confirmed that we were right to believe in him and we look forward to working with him again next year.
"As for Nico, we identified him as a rising star at the end of 2010 and chose to evaluate him during the course of this season. Despite having only limited time in the car, he convinced us that he deserved a race seat for 2012."
Commenting on the departing Sutil who had been with the team since 2007 and who is now favourite for the Williams seat, Mallya says "Our new line-up means we say 'goodbye' to Adrian Sutil, who has been with the team since we entered the sport. He has been an integral part of our success over the past four seasons and we wish him well for the future."
Looking forward to getting back to racing, Hulkenberg says "I'm obviously delighted to be staying with Sahara Force India and to be given the chance to race next year. It wasn't easy to watch from the sidelines this season, but I did my best to help the team and show what I was capable of.
"I'm extremely motivated for 2012 and would like to thank everyone for believing in me and giving me this chance. I'm keen to get down to work over the winter to develop our new car and help the team build on this year's achievements. The first test in Jerez can't come soon enough."
Delighted to be with the team next year Paul Di Resta says "I'm really looking forward to my second season of Formula 1 and continuing to grow and develop with Sahara Force India. I've said all along that I love being part of this team: they are ambitious, hungry for success and we work well together.
"I'm really excited about 2012 and there is a real sense of belief that we can continue to push the top teams and take another step forward. I'd also like to thank the team for all their hard work this year and for all the support they've given me. I'll take some time out over the next few weeks to recharge my batteries and hopefully come back even stronger in 2012."