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Hulkenberg was worried money might undo race return

Nico Hulkenberg has admitted he was worried another financially-backed driver would once again halt his formula one race career.

The German told Sport1 that, a year ago, Williams ousted him “for a reason nothing to do with the sporting side”.

He is referring to the famous British team’s decision to sign Pastor Maldonado, the 2010 GP2 champion who is backed significantly by his native Venezuela.

Hulkenberg, 24, took a backwards step to Force India, where it is believed the contract he signed stipulated a season as reserve driver before a guaranteed move for 2012 into the race seat.

It has gone exactly to plan, but Hulkenberg admits it was at times a nervous wait.

Asked if he was worried a pay-driver might foil his plan yet again, he admitted: “Yes, the concern was there.

“But I had spoken throughout the year with the team and knew what their plans were and how they wanted to develop.”

Hulkenberg answered “no” and “no” as to whether he has had to pay for the seat, and if he comes with any significant sponsorship.

At the same time, Force India’s decision is in some ways slightly surprising, given Adrian Sutil’s strong end to the 2011 season and his solid backing by the Medion computer company.

Asked how his relationship is with his older countryman now that he has ousted him, Hulkenberg insisted: “Very good.

“I have known Adrian for a long time but we didn’t talk about the situation.  He has been fully focused on his own side, which I thought was very professional.

“It’s not as though he is angry with me.”

Sutil, after all, can hardly be angry, given that F1’s cruel fate dealt Hulkenberg a similar blow last year.

“Naturally it (F1) is very brutal,” he conceded, “but I don’t feel sorry for him as I’m assuming that he will get a cockpit.”