Force India team principal Vijay Mallya has labelled the departing Nico Hulkenberg as a 'star of the future'.
The 25-year-old will move to Sauber for the 2013 F1 season, having so far scored 49 points in 17 races for Mallya's outfit.
Having previously insisted he would not stand in the way if big teams swooped for either Hulkenberg or Paul di Resta, Mallya said he could take satisfaction from the German's development during his time with Force India.
"At the end of 2010 we identified Nico as a star of the future and it has been rewarding to watch him develop his racing skills," Mallya said.
"Together with Paul he has done a brilliant job for us, helping the team score more points than ever before and giving 100 per cent commitment every weekend.
"It has been a pleasure to have Nico with us for the last couple of years, and we would like to thank him for all his hard work and wish him well for the future."
Mallya also insisted Hulkenberg's impending switch would not derail Force India's form over the final three races, nor its bid to haul in Sauber in the constructors' standings - an objective Mallya concedes is becoming increasingly difficult.
"With three races remaining this season, we know Nico will remain totally committed and continue to deliver his best performances for the team," he said.
"We have 93 points in the bag, but we are still 23 short of Sauber. It's a big task to catch them, but anything can happen.
"We've finished fourth twice and we were very close to a podium in both of those races.
"I think that in terms of competitive performance we've come a long way and we are a genuine Q3 contender.
"If we get a bit of luck in the last three races we might be able to make it up. 23 points is not uncatchable."
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