Nico Hulkenberg, sidelined since his replacement by Pastor Maldonaldo at Williams, may be willing to settle for a test-driver role with the Force India team this season, according to his manager Willi Weber.
"We have been thinking: shall we pause for a year?" Weber told Switzerland's Auto Motor und Sport. "But in today's world you are too quickly forgotten. So I think it is better for Nico to still have a presence with a good team where at least he can practice on the Fridays. That is the ideal alternative for him," added Webber.
Hulkenberg, who took a surprise pole position for Williams in Brazil last year, is expected to drive on Fridays of grand prix weekends this season for Force India, with the team's race drivers Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta to alternate sitting out the morning practices.
Weber said he and Hulkenberg chose the test role with Force India over offers of race seats with the Virgin and HRT teams, reckoning that they were too uncompetitive to be of interest.
"For someone like Nico, with a season already behind him, there is little to learn from a small team, Weber said. "There was an offer from Virgin, which was very pleasing, but [alongside] another German in Timo Glock, who has been there for a while already, the risk was too great," he said.
Weber added that he is concerned about the increasing preponderance of pay drivers in F1.
"F1 needs to be careful about creating a two-class society, with 14 real drivers and 10 pay-drivers," he told Auto Motor und Sport. "I refuse to pay for a cockpit for Nico. If you do it once, you will always be needing to bring money, and more and more. Very quickly, this becomes your image. Rather, I want to sell performance."