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Hulkenberg tells Force India he won't be back

Nico Hulkenberg has apparently taken the step that will confirm him as a Sauber driver for 2013...

Nico Hulkenberg is almost certain to be confirmed as a Sauber driver in the next few days, having apparently informed current employer Force India that he would not be returning in 2013.

The German, who was linked to possible rides at McLaren and Ferrari in the past few weeks, has produced perhaps the best performances of his F1 career in the Japanese and Korean grands prix and, following the departure of Sergio Perez for Woking next season, became a target for Peter Sauber's ambitious outfit, which is currently chasing Mercedes for fifth place overall in the 2012 constructors' championship.

Although Force India boss Vijay Mallya has made no secret of his desire to keep both Hulkenberg and Paul di Resta on board for a second season in 2013, the pair have gelled as a line-up - and performed well enough for both to be considered potential replacements for Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton. The German's departure is thought likely to open the way for Ferrari Academy member, and current Force India reserve, Jules Bianchi to graduate to a full race seat alongside di Resta, whose other options now appear to have been closed off.

Hulkenberg's timing may have been a little suspect, picking Force India's 'other' home race - and one likely to witness some opposition to Mallya - to inform the team of his decision, but he remains confident that he can help bring in another strong result at the Buddh International Circuit, where predecessor Adrian Sutil finished in the points in 2011.

"The last two races were a lot of fun and probably two of my best races of the year," he claimed, "I feel comfortable and confident in the car and the team is doing a good job. We've just got a good rhythm and momentum, and that's so important in F1. I've still had some tough weekends, like Monza and Singapore, but. on the whole. things have been going well. We just need to make sure we can repeat what we did in Korea during the final four races. We really need to stretch ourselves to get everything we can from the remaining races.

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