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The simple truth is, somewhere in our minds we’ve been asking ourselves if Nico Hulkenberg’s move to Sauber was the right one. If this was 2012, it may very well have been but since it is 2013 and the car has only scored points twice thus far, it may not have been.

Hulkenberg left Force India at the end of 2012 and I have to give credit to those who were tweeting and posting question marks as comments and suggesting that it was a move backwards. At the time, I didn’t see it that way. I felt his departure for Sauber was most likely a lateral move. I may have been wrong.

However, Hulkenber says it was the right move and he feel confident that the team can resurrect the year:

“It’s a car with potential. It’s a top 10 car and we can develop it into a consistent points-scoring car, I’m sure about that.

“It’s our job to get it out of it but we’re definitely not at the end in terms of development of the car.”

“I am looking for wins, but I didn’t come here to say we’re going to win every race, that wouldn’t be realistic,” he said.

“I would have said, this year, the main target is to improve the car and make it into a car that can be in the points every weekend.

“We’ll see afterwards what more we can do.”

In the end, Hulkenberg may be able to strangle the Sauber chassis to some decent result but Force India is leading McLaren in the Constructor’s Championship right now and you would have to say that Nico would most likely be scoring those points he was seeking with more regularity had he stayed put.

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An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry and as a CTO, he focuses on technology integration in commercial workspace design, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • I have to believe that when the microphone is off, he must be seriously questioning his move. It must be particularly painful to see both Sahara Force India cars showing such incredible strength this year, while Sauber appears to have lost what the had last year.

    • mjidris

      Yeah, I totally agree with you. There really is no point in asking him whether he regrets his move, he is a professional racer, he’s not going to say “yeah, I wish I didn’t make that move…”

  • jim

    When Nico announced he was switching teams last year I thought the move was heavily influenced by Force India’s financially problems at the time. Even at the time he announced he was moving to Sauber, Force India appeared quicker but not as financially secure.

  • MIE

    Given the problems he has had so far this season, I think he must be regretting his move. However all the time he was team mate to di Resta, the two were so evenly matched it was hard for outside observers to say if the performance was down to a air of good drivers in an average car, or average drivers in a good car.

    Now he has a different problem, he has to develop a poor car, on his own, as his current team mate is no-where near as fast as Hulkenberg.

  • HawkOfGP

    Of course he’s disappointed, but he won’t say that in public. That said, even last year the Sauber was a car that would be nowhere in one weekend, but very, very quick the next while the Force India seemed a more consistent top 10 runner.

    But in a sense Hulkenberg is in a good place, cause he has an absolutely useless team mate who he can easily destroy over the season, thus keeping his own value high in the eyes of the bigger teams regardless of how many points he manages to score. And if he can put the car together and finish high later in the season, all the better! I’d be surprised if he doesn’t make yet an another team switch within a couple of years, though, hopefully upwards rather than sideways that time.

    • Steven

      The bigger teams are not that stupid….

  • I think Nico should have stayed at Force India, but he had no way of knowing that at the time. After all, if the strongest rumours had come true and FIF1 had gone bankrupt or been sold off to keep some financial empire afloat, then Sauber could have had a much better car (or, indeed, been the only one of the two with a F1 car Nico could drive).

    However, Sauber may still work out over the long run. The technical team is good and will likely remedy the car’s problems long before 2014 ends. Nico is patient and intelligent enough to ride the improvement, which will make him look good to Ferrari should it have a vacancy pending… …which I estimate will be at the end of 2014. They also like good development drivers, which if Sauber works out as described in this paragraph, Nico will prove himself to be. The only fly in the ointment of that plan is Jules Bianchi, which wouldn’t necessarily be any easier to fend off in a Force India than a Sauber.

  • adam22

    bring back kobayashi, he was a better car developer! Guti? can’t spell his name, where is he from desert?

  • niyoko

    You know when you are stuck in traffic, and you look over to the lane next to you that is moving while you are not. When you have the chance, you get over into the moving lane only for it to stop, and the lane you were previously in begins to move faster.

    That’s Hulkenburg’s situation right now.

    15 years driving around The DC Beltway is crazy.

  • danfgough

    The real mistake was not getting his people to push harder for the McLaren drive. OK, they don’t look good right now but McLaren are a class act and would have really put Hulk in the spotlight. Whatever happens I just hope he manages to keep his good work in the spotlight. F1 people have very short memories when it comes to driver talent. If you are in an anonymous car you may as well be invisible!

  • Steven

    He had no idea what to expect. Sauber is an stablished team, much more so than FIF1. In a way it may be a great move, it just might take time to materialize. Its hard to make dicisions like that, look at Lewis, everybody thought he was nuts but it worked out…

  • Cona

    He should have gone to McLaren and completely obliterated Button…there’s a thought!

  • raithrover

    Greed is a terrible thing and Nico gave into it last year. I have little sympathy for Sauber after they treated Kobi with little respect and replaced him with a rookie pay driver who needs more help than most.

    • As a long-time Sauber fan, that stung me too. I thought Carlos Slim could carry a little water for the team and allow them to retain Kamui for another season but…