Force India would allow Nico Hulkenberg to leave for bigger F1 team

Force India would not stand in Nico Hulkenberg's way if an offer from one of Formula 1's major players materialised

Force India would allow Nico Hulkenberg to leave for bigger F1 team

The team handed Hulkenberg a two-year contract last September, keeping him on board to the end of the 2017 F1 season.

That was a break from Force India's usual practice of one-year deals with options for second seasons.

Despite securing a longer-term agreement, deputy team principal Bob Fernley insisted Hulkenberg would be afforded every courtesy to further his career should a bigger team come calling.

"Nico signing for another two years was all about continuity from our side, to be able to keep a team together that is obviously now a successful partnership," Fernley told Autosport.

"That's where we want to stay with it, but does that mean if an offer came through from a championship-winning team it wouldn't be considered?

"I'm sure Vijay [Mallya, team principal] would use the same foresight and vision as he did for the Le Mans decision."

Mallya chose not to block Hulkenberg's request to drive for Porsche in the renowned 24-hour sportscar event, where he secured a memorable win in partnership with team-mates Earl Bamber and Nick Tandy.

While Hulkenberg achieved that result without Force India, Fernley sees the Le Mans win as a significant moment in the F1 team's season - and a vindication for Mallya.

"Clearly the podium from Sergio [Perez] was the high point of 2015," added Fernley.

"But I also think we should take into consideration Nico's win in Le Mans as a high point as well. What a great achievement for him.

"I also think he brought recognition to Vijay for having the vision and strength to go against the trend and allow Nico to run."

Fernley believes it would be unjust if Hulkenberg never had the chance to add a victory in F1 to his Le Mans achievement.

"It would be nice for Nico to be able to progress to what I think his talent deserves and I think a lot of people in the paddock believe that, too," said Fernley.

"But as we know in Formula 1 the opportunities are very limited, so let's just hope one of those opportunities comes for him."

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