Paris: Nico Hulkenberg is leaving Force India at the end of the season to join Renault on a two-year contract, the French Formula One outfit announced on Friday.
He will be replacing either Kevin Magnussen of Denmark or Briton Jolyon Palmer, with Force India now left looking for a driver alongside Sergio Perez.
The 29-year-old is following in the footsteps of another German, legendary former champion Michael Schumacher.
“Renault has always been a big player in the motorsport world that brings up incredible memories.
“In his stint with Renault, Michael Schumacher not only helped make Germany an F1 nation, he also sparked my enthusiasm and fire for racing. As a part of the Renault family, I want to develop the car and write new success stories.”
Schumacher had only one season behind the wheel of a Renault engine in his final year for Benetton, winning nine Grand Prix and the second of his seven world titles.
Hulkenberg added: “It has always been my dream to work for a manufacturer team. F1’s new regulations will change the game and give our team a good opportunity.”
Jerome Stoll, Renault Sport Racing chairman, identified Hulkenberg as the man to take the team “on the next step in our journey”.
“This season has been about putting the foundations in place for future success,” he explained.
“For our next step we required an experienced driver who is still hungry for podiums. Nico Hulkenberg fulfils this role perfectly and is an excellent complement to what we want to achieve.
“He is a highly talented, dedicated and motivated driver. Nico will enable us to harness all the hard work completed this season and translate it to improved results on track in 2017 and beyond.”
Force India team principal Vijay Mallya paid a warm tribute to their departing driver.
“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 to explore fresh opportunities and it would be wrong to stand in his way.”
Hulkenberg, 29, has started in 111 races for Williams and Force India and is lying ninth, on 54 points, in the 2016 drivers standings.
Yet to finish in the top three he claimed pole position in a Williams in Brazil in 2010 in his maiden campaign.