Reports: Hulkenberg set to return to Force India

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Nico Hulkenberg could be set to make a return to Force India after just one season away, according to reports from portions of the German media in Brazil this weekend.

The German driver has been one of the most talked about people in Formula One this season, having been linked with moves away from Sauber to four or five teams due to the fragile nature of the driver market for next season. He came agonizingly close to joining Ferrari, but the team opted to withdraw its contract offer at the last minute in favor of signing Kimi Raikkonen from Lotus.

Hulkenberg is known to be chasing the seat at Lotus to be the Finn’s replacement, and team principal Eric Boullier has admitted that the German driver is his preferred choice. However, with the team’s unstable financial status being cause for concern and the ‘deal or no deal’ saga with Quantum Motorsport ongoing, it appears that Hulkenberg has decided to move back to Force India to be sure of a seat next season.

According to Michael Schmidt of Auto Motor und Sport: “The deal could be announced in the next few days, maybe even right after the Brazilian GP.”

Should this materialize, it would most probably leave Paul di Resta without a seat for 2014, and the Scottish driver has said that he is open to a move to IndyCar should he fail to find a spot with an F1 team.

However, deputy team principal Bob Fernley told the BBC that there would have to be a “jolly good reason” for the team to make any changes to its line-up for 2014.

Having missed out on all of the available seats with the front running teams, Hulkenberg’s return to Force India will be seen as a coup for the midfield outfit, although keeping hold of him for more than one year could prove to be more of a challenge.

What is truly baffling is that despite four of the five front-running teams making at least one change to their driver line-up in 2014, Hulkenberg – possibly the most underrated driver on the grid – hasn’t been snapped up by any of them.

Williams confirms Kubica and Sirotkin for Abu Dhabi F1 test

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Williams has confirmed that Robert Kubica will enjoy his third Formula 1 test outing with the team at the end-of-season running in Abu Dhabi next week as rumors grow regarding a possible race seat for 2018.

Almost seven years after his last F1 start, Kubica’s remarkable return from severe injuries sustained in a rally accident saw him enjoy two private tests with Renault before completing running with the team in a 2017-spec car in Hungary over the summer.

Reservations over Kubica’s capabilities prompted Renault to pass on giving him a seat, instead opting to hire Carlos Sainz Jr. for next year, only for Williams to become an alternative for the Pole.

Kubica tested a 2014-spec Williams at both Silverstone and the Hungaroring in recent months, and will now sample a 2017 car when he tests at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit next Tuesday and Wednesday.

Kubica will share track time with regular Williams racer Lance Stroll and Russian youngster Sergey Sirotkin, who has worked with Renault over the past two years but also missed out on a 2018 seat.

“Williams Martini Racing is pleased to confirm it will run Robert Kubica and Sergey Sirotkin for the Abu Dhabi Pirelli tire test, alongside current race driver Lance Stroll,” a statement from the team reads.

“The Pirelli tire test will take place over two days at the Yas Marina circuit during the week following the 2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

“On day one Robert Kubica will drive the FW40 in the morning session, before Lance Stroll takes over in the afternoon.

“On day two Sergey Sirotkin will drive in the morning and afternoon sessions before handing over to Robert in the late afternoon.

“The test is aimed at evaluating 2018 candidate tires on behalf of the Formula 1 tire supplier Pirelli.

“Williams is excited to have this opportunity to assess the new tyres across such an interesting range of drivers: Lance, as confirmed race driver for 2018, Robert with his huge experience, and Sergey as a very promising young talent in Formula 1.”

Williams denied earlier this week it has signed Kubica to partner Stroll for 2018, but indications are the deal looks very likely to go ahead, subject to the relevant paperwork and contracts being finalized.