Nico Hulkenberg joins Paul Di Resta at Force India

Newly-confirmed 2012 Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg

Sahara Force India have announced reserve driver Nico Hulkenberg will step up to join Scotland's Paul di Resta in their 2012 team.

Hulkenberg, 24, will replace German compatriot Adrian Sutil, who has been tipped to join Williams.

The Silverstone-based team tweeted: "It's official! One of the most exciting pairings on the grid."

Di Resta enjoyed a promising debut season as Force India finished sixth in the 2011 Constructors' Championship.

Sutil, who leaves after six seasons with the team through its various guises, also finished a career-high ninth in the drivers' standings - 15 points clear of Di Resta.

Di Resta enjoyed a superb second half of the season, finishing in the points in seven of the final nine grand prixs, including a high of sixth in Singapore.

He ended the year placed 13th in the drivers' championship with a total of 27 points earned.

The Scot said: "I'm really looking forward to my second season of Formula One and continuing to grow and develop with Force India.

"I've said all along that I love being part of this team. They are ambitious, hungry for success and we work well together. I'm really excited about 2012 and there is a real sense of belief that we can continue to push the top teams and take another step forward."

For Hulkenberg, it is a return to Formula One after he was dropped by Williams at the end of his rookie season in 2010.

Team principal Vijay Mallya said: "In Paul and Nico we have two extremely talented drivers with tremendous potential.

"Paul caught the eye of everybody in the pit lane during his rookie season.

"His speed, maturity and race craft confirmed we were right to believe in him and we look forward to working with him again next year.

"As for Nico, we identified him as a rising star at the end of 2010 and chose to evaluate him during the course of this season.

"Despite having only limited time in the car, he convinced us that he deserved a race seat for 2012.

"Our new line-up means we say goodbye to Adrian, who has been with the team since we entered the sport.

"He has been an integral part of our success over the past four seasons and we wish him well for the future."

Force India's announcement means 22 out of next year's 24 seats have been assigned.

Williams have yet to announce who will be driving alongside Pastor Maldonado, and Spanish team HRT have a vacancy, having announced Pedro de la Rosa as one of their drivers for 2012.

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