Nico Hulkenberg says hearing he had secured a racing seat with Force India for 2012 was a relief after months of speculation.
The confirmation only arrived last week, and Hulkenberg conceded he was tense until the news was finally announced.
"As you just said, it was a relief," Hulkenberg told the official F1 website. "For as long as you haven't been given a thumbs-up that your future is secured, you always feel some 'light' tension. It was a fantastic moment when all the pressure suddenly fell away."
He added: "Of course I learnt it a little earlier than the public. And there had been some positive signs in the middle of the season. I always got good feedback from the team, so I was actually quite optimistic that in 2012 I would be back and that there would be no more 'third-man' role for me."
Hulkenberg believes his third-driver role with the team during 2011 helped him stay sharp ahead of his return to racing next year.
"Obviously I was not racing, but at least it kept me sharp, I believe. Even though I hardly ever drove more than 20 laps during the sessions, I always adapted very quickly - better than even I expected.
"At the beginning of next year I will need some time to regain the level I had at the end of 2010, but with the help of the team, I hope to get there again pretty quickly."