The bigger changes are happening in the mid-field and back-market teams. Lotus (formerly Renault) is bringing back Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean. Toro Rosso is likewise switching up its roster with Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne. Meanwhile Sauber and Caterham (formerly Lotus) are both keeping their drivers (Kaumi Kobayashi & Sergio Perez, and Heikki Kovalainen & Jarno Trulli, respectively).
HRT has picked up perennial McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa, but has yet to announce its second seat. Marussia (formerly Virgin) is keeping Timo Glock and bringing in lackluster newcomer Charles Pic. Williams is keeping Pastor Maldonado but has yet to confirm whether Rubens Barrichello will be returning. And the final piece to the puzzle was filled in today when Force India announced it is keeping former DTM champ Paul di Resta in place, but replacing Adrian Sutil with Nico Hulkenberg, a German driver who raced for Williams after winning titles in Formula 3, A1GP and GP2 and who spent last year as Force India's test driver.
With just two seats (Williams and HRT) still vacant, the 2012 championship is already shaping up before the new year has even started.
Sahara Force India Formula One Team today confirmed that Paul Di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg will form its line-up for the 2012 season.
Paul continues with the team for his second season in a race seat, while Nico steps up from his role as reserve driver. Together they form one of the most exciting pairings on the grid.
Dr. Vijay Mallya, Team Principal and Managing Director: "I am delighted to present our line-up for the 2012 season. In Paul and Nico we have two extremely talented drivers with tremendous potential.
"I think Paul caught the eye of everybody in the pit lane during his rookie season. His speed, maturity and racecraft confirmed that we were right to believe in him and we look forward to working with him again next year.
"As for Nico, we identified him as a rising star at the end of 2010 and chose to evaluate him during the course of this season. Despite having only limited time in the car, he convinced us that he deserved a race seat for 2012.
"Our new line-up means we say 'goodbye' to Adrian Sutil, who has been with the team since we entered the sport. He has been an integral part of our success over the past four seasons and we wish him well for the future."
Paul Di Resta: "I'm really looking forward to my second season of Formula One and continuing to grow and develop with Sahara Force India. I've said all along that I love being part of this team: they are ambitious, hungry for success and we work well together. I'm really excited about 2012 and there is a real sense of belief that we can continue to push the top teams and take another step forward. I'd also like to thank the team for all their hard work this year and for all the support they've given me. I'll take some time out over the next few weeks to recharge my batteries and hopefully come back even stronger in 2012."
Nico Hulkenberg: "I'm obviously delighted to be staying with Sahara Force India and to be given the chance to race next year. It wasn't easy to watch from the sidelines this season, but I did my best to help the team and show what I was capable of. I'm extremely motivated for 2012 and would like to thank everyone for believing in me and giving me this chance. I'm keen to get down to work over the winter to develop our new car and help the team build on this year's achievements. The first test in Jerez can't come soon enough."