Mallya expects Nico focus

  • Last Updated: November 1 2012, 8:04 GMT

Force India co-owner Vijay Mallya is expecting Nico Hulkenberg to remain totally committed to the team despite his impending exit to Sauber.

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Hulkenberg is to move on after two seasons with Force India, initially as test and reserve driver before taking up a race seat this campaign.

Force India, however, are chasing Sauber for sixth position in the constructors' championship, and with it the additional millions of pounds that brings in revenue compared to finishing seventh, with just 23 points separating the teams.

Hulkenberg must therefore try to help Force India overhaul Sauber over the closing three races, starting in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, only for his future employers to miss out on a considerable financial windfall that would help with development in 2013 and aid his own cause.

Mallya has no regrets in allowing Hulkenberg to leave but has reminded the 25-year-old German of his current responsibilities.

"It has been a pleasure to have Nico with us for the last couple of years," said Mallya.

"At the end of 2010 we identified him as a star of the future and it has been rewarding to watch him develop his racing skills.

"Together with Paul (di Resta) he has done a brilliant job for us, helping the team score more points than ever before and giving 100 per cent commitment every weekend.

"We would like to thank him for all his hard work and wish him well for the future.

"With three races remaining this season, we know Nico will remain totally committed and continue to deliver his best performances for the team."

With regard to the driver market there remain plenty of openings, and with many drivers available who are eager, willing and available to continue in - or return to - F1.

After unsurprisingly confirming Kimi Raikkonen for next season on Tuesday, but not Romain Grosjean, Lotus have left a doubt hanging over the Frenchman who has been involved in a number of first-corner incidents this season but who is likely to remain.

At Sauber, Kamui Kobayashi is chasing sponsorship in the hope of hanging on to his seat, although with Mexican branding to remain on the car despite Sergio Perez's move to McLaren, reserve Esteban Gutierrez may well get the nod.

Pastor Maldonado is secure at Williams given the vast sums of money he brings with him from PDVSA, Venezuela's state oil and gas company, but Bruno Senna is on dodgy ground, in particular given the pace and skill of reserve Valtteri Bottas.

A number of names are being linked with Hulkenberg's Force India seat, with Mallya earlier this week not ruling out a return for Adrian Sutil, who was dumped in favour of his compatriot at the end of last year.

On Wednesday Toro Rosso confirmed Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne will remain at the team for a second season, whilst at the bottom three teams in Caterham, HRT and Marussia, only Timo Glock at the latter is understood to be safe.

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