Nico Hulkenberg denies being set to quit Sauber but keeps future options open
Reports in Germany claimed Nico was set to walk out on team
By Pete Gill
Last Updated: 25/07/13 4:21pm
Although concerns about Sauber's financial affairs have been alleviated this month by the team's new sponsorship deal with three Russian institutions, reports surfaced in Hulkenberg's native Germany on the eve of his arrival in Budapest for this weekend's race that the driver was set to leave Sauber after not being paid since May.
But while Hulkenberg - a reputed target for Ferrari and Lotus for 2014 - would not be drawn on those claims, the 25-year-old is adamant that his immediate future remains with Sauber.
Asked directly by Sky Sports News whether he would stay with the team for the rest of the 2013 season, Hulkenberg's reply was emphatic: "Absolutely".
Yet although Hulkenberg's short-term future appears to be tied to Sauber, the German did not shy away from admitting that he is eyeing a seat further up the grid in 2014.
"The future is still open, my management and I are looking at all the possible options, including Sauber," he confirmed. "Nothing has been decided and we are still quite a way away from making a decision too."
Hulkenberg welcomed the backing that the Investment Cooperation International Fund, The State Fund of Development of North-West Russian Federation and the National Institute of Aviation Technologies will bring, but was more equivocal about the prospect of Sergey Sirotkin racing for them.
Sauber's intention is that Sirotkin, who has yet to turn 18, will graduate next season. He currently contests the Formula Renault 3.5 series but most eyes have been drawn to the fact that his father heads NIAT.
"I think it's definitely good news, positive news - fresh support and new partners. Obviously cash is very powerful and important in Formula 1, to go forward and develop. It's a good sign," Hulkenberg added.
"Me, I wasn't ready for Formula 1 at that point. It is ambitious, and maybe a bit risky, but it's not my decision."