Word in the Formula One paddock suggests that highly rated German Nico Hulkenberg has secured a deal to drive for the works Renault team in 2017 and 2018, ending his on and off Force India career and lighting up the driver transfer market. If the rumours are to be believed, Hulkenberg has secured himself a two year deal with the option to extend to a third season in 2019. At 29 years of age, Hulkenberg has yet to taste the champagne on a Grand Prix podium in his 111 race starts since making his Formula One bow at the beginning of the 2010 racing season. Hulkenberg will continue to drive for the Silverstone based Force India team until the end of the current season, with team boss Vijay Mallya confirming release of the driver from his existing contract at seasons end: "Everybody at Force India wishes Nico well as he embarks upon a different path in Formula 1," said Mallya. "Having spent five years with us, Nico has become a great friend and contributed a huge amount to the team's success. He's an outstanding driver, who has scored more points for this team than anybody else. While it's true we will miss Nico, we respect his decision to explore fresh opportunities and it would be wrong to stand in his way." It is expected that Hulkenberg will hold the lead driver role at a newly restructured Renault team, with Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer both in the frame for the second seat, along with Manor's Esteban Ocon and Pascal Wehrlein. Williams driver Valtteri Bottas is also considered an outside possibility for the sole remaining works drive on the grid, however it is expected Williams will shortly conclude a deal to keep the Finn for at least another couple of seasons. Whilst recent results suggest Renault may lag behind the Force India team in terms of current performance, many in the Grand Prix paddock expect a fresh increase of manufacturer backed funding will catapult the team up the grid in 2017/2018. A raft of new technical regulations are due to come into force from next year, with the Renault designers back at Grove already committing resources and finance early to the development project in the hope of stealing a march on its immediate rivals heading into the new season. It could well prove to be an astute move by Hulkenberg, giving the talented driver his best opportunity of securing race victories in the coming couple of years. The latest shuffle again opens up the driver market, with a much desired seat at a competitive Force India likely to grab the attention of several highly rated drivers looking to step up the ladder into a regular points and podium scoring car. Both Force India and Williams run the latest Mercedes power unit and may be of interest to Mercedes junior drivers Esteban Ocon and Pascal Wehrlein, leaving Manor Racing with spaces to fill, and funds to raise, heading into the off season. F1 2017 driver market so far... Mercedes - Hamilton & Rosberg Ferrari - Vettel & Raikkonen Red Bull - Ricciardo & Verstappen Williams - TBC & TBC McLaren - Alonso & Vandoorne Force India - Perez & TBC Renault - Hulkenburg & TBC Toro Rosso - Sainz & TBC Sauber - Ericsson & TBC Haas - TBC & TBC Manor - TBC & TBC For the latest news and discussions, check your RaceDepartment Formula One sub forum and join in the discussion today! Do you think 'The Hulk' has made a wise decision moving to Renault? Who will replace him at Force India? Let us know in the comments section below!