German driver Nico Hulkenberg will leave the Force India team at the end of the Formula One season to join French manufacturer Renault.
After Force India announced earlier on Friday that the 29-year-old Hulkenberg was going, Renault confirmed he will be arriving next season on a “multi-year” deal. Renault did not elaborate.
“In his stint with Renault, Michael Schumacher not only helped make Germany an F1 nation, he also sparked my enthusiasm and fire for racing,” Hulkenberg said in a Renault statement.
Either Dane Kevin Magnussen or British driver Jolyon Palmer – Renault’s current F1 pair – will have to make way for Hulkenberg, who thanked Force India for not blocking his move.
“I am grateful that Force India has given me the chance to take up this new opportunity,” he said.
“It has always been my dream to work for a manufacturer team. F1’s new regulations (in 2017) will change the game, and give our team a good opportunity.”
There are four races left, and Hulkenberg sits in ninth place in the drivers’ standings, one place behind teammate Sergio Perez of Mexico.
Force India, meanwhile, is vying with Williams for fourth in the constructors’ championship and has a 10-point lead. Both have Mercedes engines, while Renault provides its own.
“For the remaining races, I will give my best for Force India to reach fourth place,” Hulkenberg said. “This would be a great achievement for the whole Force India team, the biggest success in its history, and a great end to a fantastic time.”
Hulkenberg is in his second stint with Force India.
“Having spent five years with us, Nico has become a great friend and contributed a huge amount to the team’s success,” team principal Vijay Mallya said. “He’s an outstanding driver, who has scored more points for this team than anybody else. While it’s true we will miss Nico, we respect his decision.”
Having first broken into F1 with Williams in 2010, Hulkenberg has 113 career races. His best finish was fourth place, which he has achieved three times.
He also raced for Sauber.
Force India has been linked with a move for 20-year-old French driver Esteban Ocon for next season.
Ocon, a former Renault reserve driver, is racing for the Manor team.