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Vettel: 'Hulk not paid a cent'

2013-11-04 09:47

STAYING PUT? Fellow racer Sebastian Vettel has said that Sauber driver Nico Hulkenberg (above) has not been paid all year, so will he sit tight with his current Sauber team for 2014? Image: AP

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates - Hanging on to his Sauber seat is perhaps now Nico Hulkenberg's only chance of staying in Formula 1 beyond 2013.

Almost signed by Ferrari, earlier linked to McLaren, Hulkenberg came close to a move to Lotus for 2014; the third option now appears to be off the table as the team's finances falter and bosses look to the lucratively backed Pastor Maldonado to plug the budget hole.

Hulkenberg told F1's website on Saturday: "Every career is different and mine seems to be as it is now with a few different teams, with a bit of movement, with a bit of nail-biting."


Indeed, after capturing pole in the 2010 finale as a rookie, Williams let Hulkenberg go - again because of Maldonado's millions.

Hulkenberg said: "It definitely was a bad experience, how it all happened. Of course you then have that in the back of your mind and get more suspicious of what people tell you because I have been lied to, to my face."

Hulkenberg sat out 2011 as Force India's reserve driver and returned to the grid in 2012. He then moved to Sauber for 2013 and to this date Force India still owes him money - at least according to the Swiss newspaper Blick.

The Sauber story hasn't been much better for Hulkenberg, despite several occasions when his undoubted talent was able to shine through. Four-times F1 champion and countryman Sebastian Vettel said it was a travesty that Hulkenberg was again waiting to be paid.

Vettel was quoted as saying by DPA news agency: "It's a shame he doesn't have a car (for 2014) yet. He is one of the fastest drivers in the field. It's a difficult time for some teams in F1 but also for some drivers.  Hulkenberg has yet to get a cent."

Monisha Kaltenborn, Sauber team boss, refused to comment on Vettel's assertion that Hulkenberg had not been paid at all through 2013. "I do not feel compelled to comment on everything that is said in the paddock," she said.

The fact that Hulkenberg and Sauber do not want to get into a Raikkonen-Lotus-style spat could be a sign that the relationship will continue into 2014.

Hulkenberg confirmed that was a possibility: "Yes, I think so."  He added when asked if Sauber could imagine keeping him: "Why not? For now we are having a good go. The spirit is up."

Stay with Wheels24 for the 2013 F1 season – fresh reports every day.

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