Nico H???lkenberg confirms he is leaving Williams

2011 F1 season

Nico H???lkenberg, Williams, Abu Dhabi, 2010

Nico H???lkenberg has confirmed he will not be driving for Williams in 2011.

In a statement on his official website he said:

I heavily regret that, because I would have been happy to stay with Williams. I want to thank the team for a great time and I wish Williams all the best for the future.
Nico H???lkenberg

H???lkenberg’s manager Willi Weber said his driver will stay in F1 next year:

I am negotiating with other teams. Nico will have his seat in F1 in 2011.
Willi Weber

H???lkenberg finished 14th in his first F1 season with 22 points to Barrichello’s 47. He scored his maiden pole position at Interlagos eight days ago.

But prior to that strong rumours had already emerged linking Pastor Maldonado, his successor as GP2 champion, to his seat in 2011.

Maldonado will drive for HRT in the young drivers’ test tomorrow and then for Williams on Wednesday.

On Saturday Williams chairman Adam Parr said the team had not yet decided on their driver-line up for 2011.

Amid claims Maldonado was being brought in because of his substantial financial backing from Venezuelan oil giant PDVSA he added:

We have replaced all the sponsorship we have lost and we are in great shape for next year. I actually feel more positive about the future now than I have done for the a long time even though, funnily enough, we actually turned a profit as a company every year for the last three years and we will this year and we will next year.
Adam Parr

Frank Williams said:

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.
Frank Williams

Read more: list of 2011 F1 drivers and teams

Image ?? Williams/LAT

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108 comments on Nico H???lkenberg confirms he is leaving Williams

  1. Andy W said on 15th November 2010, 10:26

    I wonder if this decision will turn out as badly for the team as when they let Jenson go to bring in Montoya… At the time they had an embarrasement of drivers, and chose to let the wrong one go, well at least in my mind they did…. they should have let Ralf go back in the day and kept Jenson who had shone in his few rookie races.

    At the moment I think the team really needs the stability that a driver of Rubens ilk can bring to the team as well as his experience both on and off the track, its a great shame they are letting the Hulk go because he has proven this season that he has the talent to belong in F1 and given another season will flourish (assuming he can get a respectable drive).

    However the team also need the money that Monaldo is bringing with him…..

    If I was Willi Webber I would be looking to see if I could get the 2nd Force India seat as the best option (although i think Force India is another team that could do with a driver of Rubens standing to push them to the next level).

    • Red Andy (@red-andy) said on 15th November 2010, 11:57

      But in 2001, Ralf won three races for Williams and Montoya one. Would Jenson have achieved anything like as much? Even by the low standard afforded to him by an underpowered Benetton, Button was absolutely terrible in 2001. I was amazed the team kept him on for another year.

      • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 15th November 2010, 12:09

        Button was absolutely terrible in 2001. I was amazed the team kept him on for another year.

        Was he really that much worse than any number two in a team run by Flavio Briatore?

      • Andy W said on 15th November 2010, 14:01

        In the few races Jenson had in 2000 he gave Ralf a good run for his money, I believe out qualifying him once and beating him in a race once (haven’t got the time to fact check at the mo).

        Ralf was always quick but he never was a racer, something Jenson showed in his 1st season as well as something JPM brought with him.

        As for Jenson’s time at Renault he was in a woeful car that was miles off the pace of his team mate as Flav did his usual trick of bringing 1 car and a pile of spares, rejects and junk that where bodged together so he could make up the required numbers.

  2. No point saying sponsorship money blah, blah. The points Hulk gets pays a lot more than the 15 million Maldanado can bring in. If anything this is a terrible decision financially which will lead to their demise.

    • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 15th November 2010, 10:41

      They want the best of both worlds. Collect Nico’s points money, get Maldonado’s sponsorship money and gamble it’s enough to get them to a place where they can score better points and get a higher position next year. but with Renault and Mercedes improving, they won’t get any higher than 6th again.

      Nice way to repay the guy who got you your first pole in years. I hope the Hulk slots into the second Renault seat and leaves Williams for dust. To me, signing a mediocre driver for money is as bad as giving up your independence as a team for financial investment.

      • Alex Bkk said on 15th November 2010, 11:40

        Agree across the board with that. Maybe Maldanado didn’t want Nico as a partner… a bit afraid of being outshone by Nico. It wouldn’t be as much an issue with an old vet like Rubens.

      • I’m not happy with Williams dropping Hulk either but to say Maldanado is a mediocre driver is a bit premature…

        • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 15th November 2010, 13:23

          Problem is he’s been in GP2 for four years and before this year had only scored four wins (even Kobayashi, not the greatest GP2 driver, scored one, so it’s not the greatest of achievements).

          Kobayashi taught us that what matters in F1 is what happens in F1, but Maldonado had to wait until the four best GP2 drivers all left in the same year to compete. He’s also older than I am, which isn’t the age you want to be getting into F1 nowadays.

  3. So where can he go now? Renault? Force India? Any of the new teams?

  4. Bullfrog said on 15th November 2010, 10:33

    No deal loaning him out to another team then? (as Williams did with Button and cashed in a few years later) They’ll regret that, as BMW must be doing now with the new World Champion…

    Maybe Willi Weber’s smarter than that, but seems surprising as even Barrichello can’t go on for ever.

    Where on earth does Nico go? Renault’s the best seat that’s officially available – although I’d like to think Petrov’s done enough to stay on there. Anything else is a step backwards, unless Lotus can make a giant leap.

  5. Williams say they have all the money they need and have been in profit all through the hard times!

    Just think how successful they might have been if they had stuck with loyalty and kept two good drivers long term, I don’t think they ever have.

    Shame, I’ve always had a soft spot for the team but they have made some pretty crackpot decisions over and over again!

    • Skett (@skett) said on 15th November 2010, 19:17

      If you’re right and they have been in profic all this time it makes me wonder if williams are trying to save money to do something big. An HRT buyout maybe? We know the teams have links now and we already know HRT is running a driver for williams in the young driver test.

      Am I right in saying that teams can run a car thats designed by another team so long as they build and develop it themselves? In which case they could run year old williams designs.

      Just a thought ;)

      • The accounts may have shown a profit for the last few years but that may be because they cut their cloth accordingly, so they didn’t spend what they didn’t have.

        If a big sponsor had come in with an extra £50m I sure they would have spent it on trying to make the car faster rather than leave it all in the bank.

  6. diseased rat said on 15th November 2010, 11:00

    I imagine Barrichello brings vast development experience that Hulkenburg just can not match. I expect Williams looked at the time gained over the season as a result of Barrichello’s input vs time gained as a result of Hulkenbergs input.

    I still haven’t quite got over Hulkenberg’s ridiculous and unpunished behaviour blocking and cutting the chicane lap after lap at Monza so I can’t say I’m bothered.

  7. zarathustra said on 15th November 2010, 11:03

    Hülkenberg lost his seat because he lacks money and Petrov will keep his thanks to them.

    Sometimes F1 can be really terrible…

  8. He showed his brilliant one-lap speed sometime this year but lacked consistency in race, which is one of the reasons he failed to secure his seat along with financial reason.

    Autosport has report he declined Williams multi-year deal including a loan deal to HRT, whose decision seem to be wrong because he needs to experience more f1 races under his belt and there is less opportunity to run a f1 machine due to test ban in season if he choose test driver role.

    He should secure a f1 seat even if the team is sluggish or he pays money to the team to survive in f1.

    • Sounds logical for Williams to do that, although you would imagine they rather should have tried to get Maldonado to be loaned to HRT next year.
      But I would imagine, the Hulk is in with a chance of getting that HRT drive without Williams anyhow, if not a deal with Force India, Renault or Virgin. His manager is a pretty good deal maker, he proved that with both Schumachers (who would have imagined Ralf getting so good a deal from Toyota?).

  9. so what’s the point for maldonado still doing young drivers’ test with HRT when he’s already confirm for Williams seat next season?

    anyway good news for Barrichello, maybe 2011 is he last season…

    • Get as much track time in a F1 car as possible? And he will value the Williams drive all the more after having a run in that roadblock of a car.

  10. I dont rate Maldonado a better driver than Hulkenberg, I dont know many (if any) who do. At the end of the day, this decision has boiled down to money and who has more. It’s a shame that a team with racing pedigree like Williams have to make decisions like this.

  11. I don’t see as they had much choice…

  12. verstappen said on 15th November 2010, 11:45

    As I said in the round up thread, I guess there will be a lot more to come in the silly season!
    Hulk to Proton-Renault? Test at Mercedes? Force India?
    Let’s see.

  13. Red Andy (@red-andy) said on 15th November 2010, 12:00

    Sadly this is the economic reality of Formula One. For a team struggling to make ends meet it’s better to take the certainty of sponsorship money over the possible “points-mean-prizes” money of a promising driver who delivers no cash up front.

    I’m actually amazed Weber hasn’t found enough sponsorship for Nico to warrant him keeping his seat. Maybe it’s the saturation of Germans in F1 at present but you would have thought a talent like Hulk’s could have found some decent backing.

    Anyway, my hope is that Hulkenberg finds a decent seat next year and doesn’t end up scrabbling around at the back in a Toro Rosso Virgin, Ex-Lotus or HRT. That sort of downwards step can set a career back years, if it ever recovers.

  14. Red Andy (@red-andy) said on 15th November 2010, 12:05

    Nico will have his seat in F1 in 2011.

    How certain is Weber of this? (Answers preferably in percentage terms)

  15. Jared404 said on 15th November 2010, 12:06

    Is he replacing Webber at Redbull?

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