(GMM) Nico Hulkenberg on Thursday denied he agreed to switch to Sauber next year only to bolster his chances of driving for Ferrari one day.
Former F1 driver turned British Sky television pundit Johnny Herbert expressed surprise at the German's decision to move from Force India, describing as a "sideways" step.
"They're battling for similar placings during the race weekends. So it's not a big step forward," he said.
Hulkenberg, however, did confirm that he had some talks with Ferrari recently about possibly replacing Felipe Massa next year.
The famous Italian team ultimately decided to keep Massa, but it should be noted that Sauber is powered by Ferrari engines, with the Swiss team also often siding politically with the Maranello outfit.
"There were informal conversations," Hulkenberg said in Abu Dhabi, according to the German news agency SID. "We had a little bit of a look at one another, but that's about it."
But when asked if his Sauber move might be interpreted as a move closer to Ferrari for the future, Hulkenberg issued a flat "no".
"Sauber have developed well," he insisted. "They are strong this season.
"I wouldn't have made the decision if I wouldn't consider it the right one."