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Hulkenberg targets Force India drive

Nico Hulkenberg could not earn a new contract at Williams despite his impressive end to the 2010 season.
Nico Hulkenberg could not earn a new contract at Williams despite his impressive end to the 2010 season.
  • Nico Hulkenberg is without a team for the 2011 Formula One championship
  • Rookie driver was dropped by Williams F1 at the end of the 2010 season
  • The German says his best chance of a seat next year lies with Force India
  • The 23-year-old claimed pole position at the Brazilian Grand Prix in his debut year

(CNN) -- Former Williams rookie Nico Hulkenberg believes that the Force India team could be his best chance of driving in the 2011 Formula One championship.

The German lost his race seat after being unable to earn a new contract, despite an impressive end to his debut season.

Williams instead opted to sign 25-year-old Venezuelan driver Pastor Maldonado to drive alongside Brazilian veteran Rubens Barrichello ahead of the new season starting in March.

"Force India is our best shot, but it is also no secret that quite a few drivers are trying to land a seat there. We are talking to them and let's wait and see what develops," the 23-year-old told the official F1 website.

Maldonado earns F1 drive at Williams

Force India, Toro Rosso, Virgin, Hispania Racing and Renault have yet to confirm their line-ups for 2011.

The hope is still there and I am not giving up. We are working very hard to get a deal done
--Nico Hulkenberg

Hulkenberg finished the season a point above Force India's 15th-placed Vitantonio Liuzzi in the overall standings, but 25 below the British-based team's 11th-placed Adrian Sutil.

"The hope is still there and I am not giving up," he said. "We are working very hard to get a deal done, but there are not many good race seats left."

Hulkenberg snatched pole position for Williams at the penultimate grand prix of 2010 in Brazil in November, but the driver said he knew this would not be enough for him to stay with the British team.

"One lap does not change the course of history. There had been signs before that there was something brewing, because the team repeatedly delayed contract talks. So I was forewarned that something was going on."

Rookie Hulkenberg leaves Williams

And Hulkenberg believes that drivers will no longer be able to count on just their ability in securing team spots, with sponsorship being an equally important factor in the economic climate.

"The team has not done too well over the last couple of years -- if you cannot produce that performance you eventually have to look for other ways to close the budget gap," he said.

"It has become much harder to open doors if your application does not come with a serious sponsor package and you really only rely on your talent This is quite frustrating and somewhat sad."

Nevertheless, Hulkenberg remains upbeat about the sport he joined just over a year ago -- and confident about the future, however uncertain it might be.

"I would have liked to stay with them," he said of his former employers. "Being teamed up with Rubens Barrichello -- he is a great guy and still a great driver. I really enjoyed working with him.

"I don't want to think about a Plan B. My focus is 100% on finding a good race seat for 2011. That is where all my efforts are going right now."