x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Nico Hulkenberg stays calm amid contract rumours at Sauber

Driver coy on his future status as new sponsors arrive but insists everything is fine, for now.

Nico Hulkenberg's contract is until end of season at Sauber and has been linked to Lotus and Ferrari for the next. Vladimir Rys / Getty Images
Nico Hulkenberg's contract is until end of season at Sauber and has been linked to Lotus and Ferrari for the next. Vladimir Rys / Getty Images

Nico Hulkenberg laughed off speculation yesterday that this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix could be his last for Sauber but remained coy about whether he had been paid by the Swiss Formula One team.

"It's rubbish," the German driver said of online rumours that he was on the verge of walking out.

"They make me laugh, make me smile," he said. "I read it on my Twitter page where people can write to me. A bunch of people were having a discussion and I was thinking: 'Where has that come from'?"

Hulkenberg said he expected to be with Sauber until the end of the season but was evasive when asked about his wages.

"That is contractual detail which I don't want to talk about," he said.

Sauber are struggling for cash but announced on July 15 that they had arranged a partnership with three Russian entities which they said would give the team a solid foundation for the long term.

As part of that announcement, Sauber agreed to set up a development programme to prepare the 17-year-old Russian Sergey Sirotkin as a racing driver for the team next year. Sirotkin's father, Oleg, is the head of one of the three entities, the National Institute of Aviation Technologies.

Hulkenberg said the partnership looked to be good news for Sauber but he was short of information about it.

"Fresh support, strong partners and especially cash which as we know is very powerful and important in Formula One to move forward and develop. It's a good sign," said the German.

"I've not been involved with the deal. I don't know all the details." He referred questions to management or Monisha Kaltenborn, the team principal.

Hulkenberg recognised that it would be a tall order for a driver with such a lack of experience to come into Formula One in the time envisaged.

"Me, I wasn't ready for Formula One at that point. It is ambitious, maybe a bit risky, but it's not my decision," he said.

Hulkenberg has been linked to other teams, notably Lotus and Ferrari, for 2014 if Kimi Raikkonen or Felipe Massa move on but he gave away little about his plans.

"I'm looking at all my options but I haven't decided yet or done anything," he said.

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