Yesterday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was Nico Hulkenberg’s last at the wheel of a Williams car.
The young German, who scored a stunning pole position for last weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix, will leave the team at the end of the year. He announced the split on his website this morning, suggesting that the two parties couldn’t come to an agreement on a new contract.
“I heavily regret that, because I would have been happy to stay with Williams,” said the Hulk. “I want to thank the team for a great time and I wish Williams all the best for the future.”
However Nico plans to be in F1 in 2011 and his manager Willi Weber says he’s working to find his man a new home.
“I am negotiating with other teams,” said Weber. “Nico will have his seat in F1 in 2011.”
Meanwhile Williams have confirmed that Rubens Barrichello will remain with them next season. The Brazilian has enjoyed a strong 2010 campaign, frequently mixing it with the top-ten in qualifying. He will thus extend his recording breaking tally of 306 grand prix entries.
“We recruited Rubens to Williams knowing that he would bring technical expertise, experience and passion,” said Frank Williams. “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.”
Well-funded GP2 champion Pastor Maldonado is the favourite to join Barrichello next year, though experienced drivers such as Nick Heidfeld and Adrian Sutil have been linked with the seat in recent weeks.
Hulkenberg’s options are limited, with Renault the only front-end team yet to confirm both drivers for next year. Force India may have a vacancy, but should he fail to land one of these seats his best bet appears to be at Hispania. However he is believed to have turned down the chance to go on loan to Spanish squad as part of a new multi-year deal with Williams.
His prospects don’t look great right now.
What do you think of the Hulk getting the heave-ho? Make your opinions heard!