Mat Coch writes:
After proving himself one of the brightest talents in Formula One, Nico Hulkenberg has become hot property. The German, who debuted with Williams in 2010 before being dumped in favour of Pastor Maldonado, reignited his career at Force India with a strong 2012 season.
In October, he agreed a move to Sauber, which secured three podiums and sixth place in the Constructors Championship against Force India's seventh spot. Hulkenberg scored 63 of the team's 109 points, out-scoring highly rated teammate Paul Di Resta.
Moving to Sauber is an incremental step up the Formula One ladder but the deal, for 2013 only, leaves Hulkenberg's future open to chance. Consequently, it has prompted some to suggest the German could find his way to Red Bull for the season beyond, though this seems unlikely.
Reports, quoting Red Bull driver advisor Helmut Marko, link Hulkenberg with a move to either Red Bull or Ferrari, presumably in place of Mark Webber or Felipe Massa respectively. However, with Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo thought to be in line for a seat at Red Bull and the fact Hulkenberg spurred the Austrian company's advances during his formative years, the notion does appear to be something of a leap of faith.
Hulkenberg's future will depend on his ability to recapture the form he displayed in 2012, while hoping the Sauber C32 will prove as competitive as the car it succeeds. Released on February 2, before its track debut at Jerez in Spain three days later, it will be a key component in shaping Hulkenberg's 2014.