Paul di Resta believes Nico Hulkenberg would have been better off staying at Force India rather than leaving to drive for Sauber.
After weeks of speculation about his future, Hulkenberg was confirmed as a Sauber driver for the 2013 season on Wednesday. Force India teammate di Resta admitted he was surprised by Hulkenberg's decision, as he doubts Sauber is a step up from his current team.
"I was surprised that Nico left this team, to be fair, for an immediate competitor," said di Resta in Abu Dhabi on Thursday. "I don't see it as being a step up, to be perfectly honest. I see it as an equal kind of status. Long-term, where you see this team is going, I think it is probably better here [at Force India]."
Although Sauber is ahead of Force India in the standings this year, di Resta feels his team has been more consistent in its performances over past seasons.
"They [Sauber] have had a couple of remarkable results, and I am not going to deny that. But in terms of consistency, we have got a lot. It may be different. Next year may be different, and I don't know the full reasons why Nico has gone there."
Although the Scot admitted recently that he was disappointed he had not been picked by a top team for next season, he said he was happy to stay at Force India, which he reckons it is still growing.
"There is progression, and the way this team is structured and going forward, I am content where I am."
OPINION: Hulkenberg has not made a mistake
By AUTOSPORT F1 editor Edd Straw
While Nico Hulkenberg's move from Force India to Sauber – which is just one place higher in the constructors' championship – appears superficially to be a sideways one, it would have been a far easier decision to make than he suggests, despite Paul di Resta's skepticism.
For a start, Sauber is a more complete team with a better-equipped factory. That means that its ultimate potential is greater than Force India's, even though the latter is continually developing better facilities.
Then there's the fact that Sauber has gradually been on an impressive upward curve since BMW's withdrawal. But for Sergio Perez's mistake late in the Malaysian Grand Prix, it would have a win to its name this year.
Then there's the Ferrari factor. Despite missing out on a possible switch either to the Scuderia or McLaren, Hulkenberg knows that he still has a long-term future with a top team.
Ferrari's influence at Sauber will mean that it can monitor his progress very closely, while the prospect of fighting for podiums, rather than the odd fourth, fifth or sixth place at Force India, means that he can show his ability to other top teams as well.
Hulkenberg knows how good he is and by moving to Sauber, he has probably taken one step sideways to go two or three forward in the long run.