Feb.3 (GMM) Adrian Sutil deserves to keep his Formula One race career alive.
That is the claim of Nico Hulkenberg, the driver who is replacing his German compatriot at Force India in 2012.
Sutil, 29, has failed so far to secure an alternative seat, and days ago was dealt a further blow with a Munich court convicting him of grievous bodily harm for an assault on Lotus team executive Eric Lux last year.
He did, however, have a strong 2011 season, outscoring his teammate Paul di Resta - the Scottish rookie who has retained his race seat - by 15 points.
"Adrian definitely deserves a cockpit -- more than some of the other current race drivers," Hulkenberg, who steps up from the reserve role after losing his Williams race seat at the end of 2010, said.
"There is absolutely no bad blood between us," the 24-year-old, referring to his relationship with Sutil, told Sport Bild magazine.
He blames the situation - with drivers like Sutil and Rubens Barrichello out in the cold - on 'pay-drivers'.
"I was one of the few drivers in Formula One who don't need to bring any money," said Hulkenberg.
"But that so many experienced drivers are without seats shows just how brutal the sport can be."
His plan for 2012, therefore, is to ensure a place on the 2013 grid.
"At the end of the year I don't want to have to worry about my seat for the next season," insisted Hulkenberg.
And he said helping Force India to secure fifth place in the constructors' world championship - one position better than in 2011 - is another goal for his second season in F1.
The Mercedes-powered VJM05 will be launched on a chilly Friday morning at Silverstone.