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Williams indicates Hulkenberg will stay next season


Williams backs Hulkenberg for 2011

By Chris Partridge

Sir Frank Williams has indicated that Nico Hulkenberg could stay with Williams F1 next season.

While there is no official word on the team's driver line-up for next year, the team principal heaped praise on the German in an interview with the BBC.

"It was a little disappointing, maybe, in the first few races, perhaps because he was being over-cautious," he said.

"But lately he has become very competitive and we have just seen the beginning of something exceptional."

Nico Hulkenberg
Hulkenberg won the GP2 Series in his maiden season

When asked if followers of F1 could look forward to seeing Hulkenberg, who has scored 18 points from 17 races this season, next year, Williams replied: "Absolutely. We do hope so yes.

"He won all the way up to Formula 3 and GP2, he has won every single championship and in the right team, hopefully us one day, he will win the world championship as well in Formula 1."

Williams also had good things to say about Rubens Barrichello's first season with the team, despite the Brazilian scoring 47 points so far, with no podium finishes.

He said: "He has enormous experience. He is now, without doubt, the most experienced driver in the pit lane and he does demonstrate that very frequently.

"His technique is very understated, he's a very smooth driver. He likes to be mollycoddled emotionally a little bit, and he likes being told how good he is, but we don't have any problem in telling him, we believe strongly in him.

"He's good fun and very experienced and that is a great value to any team."

It was very dangerous and totally unnecessary, and totally unsporting too

Sir Frank Williams on Michael Schumacher's run-in with Rubens Barrichello in Hungary

This season is proving to be one of the most exciting for years, with five drivers, Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, Red Bull's Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel and McLaren's Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, in with a chance of winning the title.

Last weekend Webber, who raced for Williams in 2005 and 2006, lost his lead in the championship to Spaniard Alonso after crashing out in the wet in Korea, although his former boss believes he can still triumph.

Williams said: "He did cause himself a lot of damage by crashing out of the last race. It's easy to be critical, the wet's a very tricky place to be when you have got 730 horsepower, but he did lose the car.

"Will he win? His chance is still very good but I wouldn't like to call it. If he keeps a cool head he could think it through."

Meanwhile, Williams had stern words for seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher for nearly driving Barrichello into a concrete wall during the Hungarian Grand Prix in August.

"It was dangerous and I think he was surprised, having conducted that manoeuvre, about how much opprobrium was thrown at him," said Williams.


"He was given a very hard time from within the paddock from amongst the teams and within the press and he deserved that. It was very dangerous and totally unnecessary, and totally unsporting too."

Williams are currently seventh in the constructors' standings, just three points behind Force India, but the team's boss is hopeful next year's car will improve the situation.

He said: "Clearly I'm aware of how it is performing in the wind tunnel. How it will perform in the drag remains to be seen but I like to think we move one row up the grid every year as a minimum.

"It has always been extremely difficult to be at the top and once you are there it is even more difficult to stay there - there are a lot of good teams around."

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see also
Nico Hulkenberg profile
19 Nov 10 |  Drivers & Teams
McLaren promise to support Button
29 Oct 10 |  Formula 1
Vettel not giving up title dream
27 Oct 10 |  Formula 1
Schumacher reprimanded for block
23 Oct 10 |  Formula 1
Alonso cautious over title hopes
24 Oct 10 |  Formula 1
Alonso wins as Red Bull implode
24 Oct 10 |  Formula 1
14 Nov 10 |  Drivers & Teams

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