Williams have today announced that Rubens Barrichello – the most experienced driver in the history of Formula 1 – will remain with the team next season. Nico Hulkenberg, the young German who has just completed his first season in the sport, will not be driving for the team in 2011.
Barrichello qualified in the top ten at thirteen of the nineteen venues and accumulated 47 points in his first season as a Williams driver, and finished tenth in the drivers’ championship. The Brazilian, who competed in his 307th grand prix yesterday, is thought to have settled well at the Oxfordshire-based team, and that his vast experience gives the engineers and designers valuable information for car development.
Securing Williams their first pole position in over five years was not enough for Hulkenberg to hold on to his place in the team. The pole-sitter in Brazil, who finished his debut season fourteenth, will now need to search elsewhere for a 2011 race seat.
Team Principal Frank Williams gave no explanation of the decision to drop Hulkenberg – one believe on the outside to be influenced by commercial matters – but instead thanked the German for his efforts over recent years.
“First, I would like to thank Nico for his hard work this year, and before that in preparing himself for Formula One,” said Williams. “We are very proud to have supported him as he secured the Formula 3 and GP2 titles and during his debut in Formula One. At Williams we have for many years tried to bring new talent into the sport, and we are convinced that Nico will go on to great things. We wish him well and hope that our paths will cross again in the future.”
On Barrichello, Williams commented, “We recruited Rubens to Williams knowing that he would bring technical expertise, experience and passion. He has delivered everything we could have hoped for this season and we are delighted to confirm that he will drive for us again in 2011.”
The team’s second driver for 2011 will be announced by the end of the year. Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado, the 2010 GP2 champion, is the most likely replacement for Hulkenberg, and will be in the FW32 for the young drivers’ test in Abu Dhabi this week, along with Britain’s Dean Stoneman.