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Hulkenberg gets the bullet from Williams; Barrichello goes for 19th F1 season
Hulkenberg gets the bullet from Williams; Barrichello goes for 19th F1 season
Posted By: James Allen  |  15 Nov 2010   |  12:53 pm GMT  |  158 comments

Williams has announced today that the team will drop promising rookie Nico Hulkenberg for next season. At the same time it was confirmed that Rubens Barrichello will race on for the team in 2011, and unprecedented 19th season of F1 competition.

Hulkenberg’s spectacular pole position in Brazil last week, where he set nine consecutive best sector times, was not enough to save his drive, in the face of the expected arrival of GP2 champion Pastor Maldonado, who has extensive backing from the Venezuelan government.

Barrichello’s contract was signed some time ago but was not announced as the team worked hard behind the scenes to replace the sponsorship money which ends this year from its leading backers RBS, Philips and AT&T. Team principal Adam Parr has been working hard on raising money in Venezuela and Qatar. It has also been suggested that minority shareholder Toto Wolff is to increase his stake in the team.

Under the management of Willi Weber, who had Ralf Schumacher at Williams in the early 2000s, Hulkenberg has been associated with Williams for many years, going back to his F3 days.

Sir Frank Williams said, “First, I would like to thank Nico for his hard work this year, and before that in preparing himself for Formula One. 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.”

HIs prospects of finding another drive are decent, as he has impressed in the second half of the season. Although he finished behind Vitaly Petrov in the championship, thanks to the Russian’s dogged drive in Abu Dhabi, Hulkenberg is on the radar.

So what are his options? Renault may well retain Petrov; I spoke to Renault F1 owner Gerard Lopez at the weekend and he confirmed that there is a huge amount of potential sponsorship in Russia, which the team hopes to bring on board for next season.

Force India is probably the next best option. They have Adrian Sutil, whose performances have flat lined a bit this year. Hulkenberg looks a better prospect, but again Sutil brings funding. Paul di Resta has the young guns test this week to show his quality and audition for Tonio Liuzzi’s seat.

After that you are looking at the new teams, which won’t be new any more next season.

As an alternative a reserve driver role at Mercedes might appeal, given that Michael Schumacher may only do two years of his three year contract, so Hulkenberg might get a competitive car in 2012 that way. This is what Mika Hakkinen did in 1993, leaving Lotus to be number three at McLaren. He got his chance sooner than he imagined, when the team dropped Michael Andretti in September that year.

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This definitely makes perfect sense to anyone..


James, I think you are being far too kind on Williams. Quite a lot of businesses need to finance their operations on an ongoing basis and when the macroeconomical conditions render that difficult, it is the “good” businesses that survive. Williams has not been in that category for quite some time and blaming the economic climate is merely a poor excuse. They simply aren’t good enough.

Perhaps its the management that they should be changing and not the drivers… Hulkenberg did not deserve this and he is also being too kind in his comments.


I would have been more surprised if Hulkenberg had come back to Williams due solely to the fact that, surely, dearths of better offers would have come his way after the Interlagos display.

Nico Rosberg will probably have had enough of the Hulk looming in the background waiting to outclass him as his teammate, what after years of it at Williams and likely soon to be at Merc, as well.


Webbers going nowhere he has the car for next year to try and win a WDC, although I’d like to see him move to Ferrari. Massa has been awful this season both McLaren and Red Bull had both drivers on the running in the later stages of the championship but Ferrari only had one.

I reckon it’s time for Ferrari to take a gamble with a young driver. I’d give Hulk a shot.


It’s a sad state of affairs when Williams has to bring in pay drivers to cover its costs. This is a team that historically has always eschewed such an approach in favour of selecting the best drivers available.

Perhaps the “new Tyrrell” tag coined a while ago isn’t all that inappropriate after all.


Maybe Williams should put Hugo Chavez in the car.


It’s a shame that in a sport as prestigious as Formula One, people don’t have to earn the right to participate if they have a fat wallet instead. Ridiculous.


Hi James.

This sad news about Hulkenberg has made me realise that I haven’t heard much talk about the ‘musical chairs’ of driver movements this season, as we’ve all been so gripped with the title challenge.

Do you think you could throw together a blog post about which drivers are changing teams, which are staying put and which (like Hulkenberg) are temporarily out of the picture?

I haven’t got a clue what is happening this season!


I read with interest the talk how much money is needed to drive karts at high level to be watched by formula 1 scouts.

As a kid i drove soap-boxes, gravity cars. My nick is from Seifenkiste which is german for soap-box. Soap box race kinda died in germany when Opel withdrew its sponsoring in the 1970ties. Now there are bobby-car gravity races and even what began as fun ends in a material battle = money.

Of cause you have to be lucky to jump into formula 1. Talent is not all.

Even your birthday can be important. My oldest daughter is born in decembre so when playing soccer with 5 years she was nearly 1 year behind in grewing because 1st of january being the fix date for a youth team. So even she had talent this nearly one year back in growth was too much in early years. She changed from a girls team to a mixed team with boys which allowed girls to be one year older and it was a jump from nearly alltime replacement to first goalkeeper.

There is a canadian study of ice hockey players and it proved that most of first league players are born early in year. It is not just talent it is this half a year in growth and riping which they have in advance to the late in year born if the scouting is done at an age below 6 years already. The half year doesn’t matter this much when they are teenagers, but as young kids it is a lot.


Tell me about it, my oldest boy is a July birthday. In UK the cut off date is September so he’s the youngest in his team


Sad but not unsurprising news…

Hulk is disadvantaged by the fact there are so many German drivers on the grid all competing for the valuable German sponsorship dollar..the charisma and PR bankability of Vettel & Schmumeister sucks up most of this cash with crumbs left for Rosberg, Sutil, Heidfeld, et al. Minus overtaking skills, Vettel is pretty much the complete driver/marketing package at the moment.

It says a lot for Williams’ current setup & resources that they have retained Rubens (probably on a heavily performance loaded contract) and dropped Hulkenberg…Looks like they need a pay driver who can bring a new title sponsor.

The Willi Weber connection will link him to shadow Schumi at Mercedes.


The Hulk will be a perfect teammate with Kubica at Renault in 2011. I can’t believe that Renault wil make the mistake, and miss an opportunity like this


I don’t think they have an opportunity. Merc will probably come at Hulk with a better one: sit a year and learn from Schumi, then step right into a top car with a full manufacturer-backed entry with lots of potential. Meanwhile, Renault the company seems to be divesting from Renault the team and associating itself more with Red Bull, and possibly Lotus as well.

“Renault” will retain Petrov because they need money, especially if the rumors about the company divesting from the team are true.


Whilst Hulkenburg is obviously a talented driver, this needs to be put into context. Motorsport has always been about money right from the first automobiles. There are thousands of talented drivers who have missed out on potential championships with suplus talent, but lack of money. For all the merits of a socialist system where talent prevails, I don’t think it will ever happen.

Instead of focusing on the drivers’ talent, I think team resources play a much bigger part in determining the championship. Put any of the top drivers in an HRT and they will struggle. Parachute Hamilton into the top car and he becomes a contender.

So what we should be doing is:

1. tightening the rules to prevent breakaway technical advantages (eg Brawn 2009) and

2. leveling team budgets.

That way talent has a much better chance of shining through, even in 2nd or 3rd tier teams. This has been repeatedly shown in touring car championships where multiple drivers can win week in week out rather than just those in the best team. Unfortunately F1 over the years has seen one or two dominant teams (Williams, Ferrari, Maclaren have all had their turns to dominate) and the rest reduced to making up the field.


Hi James and all.

Just a thought about the young Drivers and Finances mentioned.

Maybe all the F1 teams should have to donate their last years tubs/chassis to the lower formula, the body work can be made cheaper with fiberglass from the molds and other items of Aluminum/steel.

Could the FIA and FOM enforce something like that? and make some rules in the new Concorde agreement getting the teams to fit standard mounting points for engines/gearbox/suspension for the other formula to be in place, maybe that way it will move some of the money down the sport without directly taking it off the F1 teams and helping under financed drivers.

I’m not sure how many tubs the teams make, but its better racing them than collecting dust or being crushed.

I think F1 in season testing should be allowed, but only with rookie drivers being allocated from the lower formula to a team equal to their position in their formula. Give them set dates in the European part of the season when races don’t clash and when everybody is in the same area. At least then all the young drivers get a chance to shine, costs wouldn’t be too high and the teams get the testing they all want.

I don’t know how the lower formulas or karting championships work other than reading some comments from above about the costs. Maybe the FIA & FOM should do more, work more closely with karting clubs, create a standard championship with equal equipment or something so everyone has the opportunity and from there the top 5 or something get some financing to progress.

Regarding sponsorship and todays technology, is there a way of using some kind of green screen advertising on the track and on the cars? (I think this is done in football??) This would allow better targeting advertising to the particular country the broadcast is shown in. Although it would look strange at the track!

Sorry its off topic a little. I read everyones replies and there must be an answer to this pay driver scenario.

I have to agree with what Williams has done. They could of gone for 2 paying drivers and had at least one or both that is already in F1. Good choice with Rubens, he’s done a great job and worth every penny.


It’s been mentioned before, but with the very limited testing now, I think the teams should be allowed a number of development days where only drivers from lower formulas can take part. It would still allow the teams to test parts, and we could see more from other drivers who might not otherwise get a chance at an F1 drive.

And while we’re talking about pay drivers and sponsor money etc. When was the last time you saw an ugly F1 driver? If you don’t look good on a poster, then good luck getting sponsorship. If you’re ugly AND in F1, god you must actually have got there on speed and talent.

I really wish that VW would buy Williams or something. Audi should be in F1.


Robert Kubica wouldnt be my first choice to model my sponsors watch, but I would sure like him to drive my F1 car.


He IS very fast.


Williams doesn’t change. Just ask Damon Hill, JV, Heinz Harald-Frentzen or even Jenson.

Their drivers are just seat-warmers, except now they’re not warming a very good seat!

Nico should maybe count himself lucky – he’s avoided the possible ignomy of Damon’s fate: one day winning the championship and then being told to sling his hook.

(I know DH’s critics always say it was the car doing most of the work, but even if you don’t think that’s a harsh assessment DH won the right to stay.)


I like Hulkenberg. He’s a talent so I’m disappointed that he’s being shoved out in favour of a lesser talent with money. Don’t see a point in him moving to Mercedes as 3rd driver. It’s just pointless considering the FIA’s stupid ruling on no testing. Sure don’t let the race drivers test but allow the 3rd drivers to test. It’ll be hugely beneficial and I fear Hulkenberg ,like many other 3rd drivers from the past two years, will be forced to rot.


Don’t forget that 3rd drivers can still be used in Friday practice. I would imagine that if the Hulk signed up with Merc, they would do this quite a bit with him- if not every weekend.


Hey James… this is way off topic but since you have sort of officially started your posts for the off season, I was wondering if it was in your plans to write your insights about how the return of the single diffuser is going to shake up the order again next year? Ferrari and Mclaren both seemed to fail quite spectacularly in their first renditions while the Redbulls seemed to be the only halfway decent challenger to the Brawns, being the only team to take a race win without a double diffuser if memory serves right (Vettel in China).

I have really enjoyed your technical breakdowns from this year and I am really interested to see your insights on that. Again sorry for taking that one off the board, but didnt know where else to suggest it.


James, I’ve just read on Autosport that Toyota have abondoned the HRT collaboration, most likely due to lack of forthcoming cash. What are their prospects for next year?

They’re not in a position to develop their own chassis, it’s unlikely they will go crawling back to Dallara and Toyota are a no go either. No wonder no one wants to drive for them! I was surprised they managed to see out the season really, but without a “customer” deal for chassis, as well as the Williams deal, they’ve surely got no hope.


If they are on the grid next year, I will eat the 2010 Toyota chassis.

Their best bet is turning up with a GP2 car.


It might just be worth starting a collection to get them on the grid for just the first race then! 😉


They already did that last season 😉


It would probably be quicker than the current car!

Their biggest asset would appear to be the entry itself, so I would expect to see another F1 aspirant buy the team/entry rights. Are there any teams on the horizon?


What a way for Williams to reward the driver who brought the team their first pole position in five years. Oh, and perhaps the team didn’t notice that the margin was a second quicker than that of a superior car and, arguably, the quickest single lap driver in the series.


Can anybody tell me what Michael Schumacher has actually brought to the Mercedes team this year?Surely most of the publicity has been negative-running Rubens into the wall and performing badly!Its not as if they have exploited him in their marketing either,i mean its a waste of a ‘top’ car isnt it?Put the Hulk in it!!!


very sorry for Hulkenberg seeing that he has been ‘possibly’ even more successful than Hamilton in his early career. also in my opinion he has done a extremely good job in another over hyped Williams car. even tho it improved during the year it still another disappointing season for my favorite F1 team.

I would love to see Williams return to the top again.

Correct me if i’m wrong on this one but weren’t Hulkenberg and Pastor Maldonado teammates last season in GP2 and didn’t Hulkenberg blow him away?!


Hmm, not exactly getting the bullet – being offered the opportunity to drive for HRT in 2011 (minus Toyota chassis) is an easy option to walk away from. Maldonanldo’s cash is the primary reason, hardly fair when Hulkenberg destroyed him in GP2 in Hulkenberg’s only season (Maldonando’s 3rd). Rosberg certainly won’t have looked back.

I don’t know what is worse from a formerly great team like Williams: this news or the satisfaction expressed in finishing 6th out of 9 competitive teams. Very sad.


To my mind, the lack of test time for rookie F1 drivers is one of the most urgent problems facing the sport. The unproductive churn of obvious talent like Hulkenburg hurts the sport. Only the most exceptional young driver can step into the category and assert themselves using the scant time available on race weekends.

Despite his error rate, Petrov has shown some potential, not least at newer tracks like Abu Dhabi were his experience differential is reduced.

It is easy enough to imagine these guys along with the Toro Rosso drivers being much more consistent performers if whole seasons weren’t consumed by basic learning behind the F1 wheel.


agree with you but there’s the issue of the engine limitation. They need separate engine and gearboxes from the regular drivers.

The only reason Rubens is still here is the unexperienced youngsters


I completely agree. We should have Friday mornings where teams have to run a young driver.


An interesting idea, but a realistic one? After all, there have been mentions this year of reducing race weekends to two days instead of three. Furthermore, this would very much go against the grain of the resource management being introduced into F1–especially in terms of engine longevity–and it would entirely nullify the increased fuel efficiency teams have pledged to work towards in the next decade.


But otherwise you are running people who can’t drive to the best of there ability.

Yes it is important to have a good efficient, clean green, lowcarb f1, but while they increasing the calender to 20 tracks next year they can’t really call a week or two for rookies behind the wheel of an F1 car that bad.

What do you want, clean green efficiency with drivers that don’t know what there really doing or drivers showing what they really can do at a small expense. THIS IS FORMULA 1 FOR GOODNESS SAKE!

Friday test sessions should be able to run a

‘3rd car’, i.e. one that doesn’t use a drivers engine and if crashed doesn’t take the actual driver out of the runnning. Drivers with less than 10 races experience can drive on the friday morning.


“… where teams have to run a young driver”

or Michael Schumacher 😉


I can partly understand why they are keeping Rubens – for his experience – but when it comes down to it, how good is he? On the end of season driver positions, Michael is 9th with 72 points (after 3 years out and with a car not to his liking), Rubens is 10th with 47 points, but continues to state how he had to play second fiddle to Michael. Nico can only gain experience and improve. I would probably have kept both for a second season.


I think you forgot to mention that Rubens has got over twice as many points this year as his team mate where as schumacher has only got just over half the points of his team mate! If I was going to use your logic I’d have to ask myself how good schumacher is/was?


One thing for sure Michael beats the drama queen a.k.a Rubens once again, in term of points this year, i wonder what Rubens excuse now Michael using voodoo to change the points :D. Judging Michael after 3 years absence against Nico is not very wise compare to Rubens with a rookie. besides seven-time world champion and zero-time champion speaks for itself.


Williams has never had a two-time champion, and their driver management philosophy seems to play a large part in that.


yes but he had several one time world champs. mansell could have been at least twice, but had very bad luck in 86 and 87.


Yes, Williams has a pile of WDC but no two of them with the same driver’s name. Look at all the other teams with multiple WDC–they’ve got repeat champions. Pity they let Damon go so we couldn’t see another season of him versus JV.


You mean had a driver win two titles with them, right?


To be fair Williams (allegedly) offered him a multi-year contract which would have meant dropping to HRT for a season or possibly 2 – then returning to Williams to drive a Porsche powered car in 2013.

Maldonado in case you forget is the reigning GP2 champion so it’s not like they’ve stuck Lavaggi in the car or something. Admittedly, the standard in GP2 wasn’t massively high this season but I think Maldonado may suprise a few next season with his pace.

Although it’s difficult with the lack of testing these days – I was a little disappointed by Hulk (Brazil aside)versus Rubens. I would have expected him to outpace him comfortably.


Its a pity for Hulkenberg but the real news here is that Rubens races on! The guy is a legend – 19 years in F1, pushing on toward 350 starts! Unbelievable! Here’s to you, Rubens, long may you continue to bring your passion, enthusiasm and general teddybear-like loveableness to F1!


Its a pity for Hulkenberg but the real news here is that Rubens races on! The guy is a legend – 19 years in F1, pushing on toward 350 starts! Unbelievable! Here’s to you, Rubens, long may you continue to bring your passion, enthusiasm and general teddybear;like loveableness to F1!


From a financial perspective , I can fully understand the Williams approach, in that they need to pay the bills at all costs, and maintain a level of development spend to they dont drop further behind.

There is no way they would replace Hulkenburg on merit, for a guy who has won GP2, but took 4 years to do so (from memory).

On the other hand, they are losing out on a potential team leader (Rubens surely only has another 1 year max) for the future, and one that they will never get back to the team.

If only we had a banking industry that knew how to govern itself, I suspect this move would not be happening. Good old RBS…..

I am sure Willi Webber will manage to get his guy a decent seat. My bets would be Force India or Lotus for a year (with a potential to go to Mercedes in 2011)

This guy is a future world champ in my eyes, and I suspect a lot of the big guys will be sniffing around him in the next few years.


I heard a little while back he might be going to Lotus Renault(the current one, not Danny Bahar etc).

Neither of their drivers is confirmed yet, and it would be an excellent coup for them to get a rising star.

I fully expect Lotus to get right up into the midfield next season (or whatever they end up being called).


It would, but not sure it’s Hulk’s idea of next move. Bruno Senna is another in connection with that seat


Wow the Senna/Lotus combination back in F1!


I must admit, having two experienced drivers is good for lotus, but neither of those drivers is going to push lotus to the next level.

I’d like to see them take a Hulkenburg or a senna and give them a chance. Couple that to a good experienced driver.

Lotus have a great experience in the tech team, and a young potential future champ would be great.

On jarno and heikki, neither seems significantly faster than the other. I never particularly thought either had a great reputation as a development ?guru?


What about the Hulk moving to Ferrari as a test driver or taking Massa’s place? There will be some reshuffling at Ferrari in face of the defeats this year. Besides, he’s always said he wants to be a Ferrari driver. Or does he not have a chance with Jules Bianchi in the picture?



Any chance of willy weber landing him a seat at ferarri to replace massa?

I recon ferarri can’t afford to bank on massa being a positive nr 2 who is going to bank solid points.

I expect a few managent changes in addition as they can’t continue like this surely.


Ferrari don’t take rookies, as a rule


It didn’t work this year. Massa was appalling this year, I can only think he is still carrying scares from his accident.They should try and pinch that young Aussie driver from Red Bull.He would be number 2 to Alonso and he would be happy with that at this stage of his career.


So why are they investing in young driver programs now?

Think the Red Bull rise and other independent teams with owners with deep pockets like force India, Renault ( which isn’t Renault), lotus etc. Might bring upon ferarri the wind of change!

Besides they like a german and sure the hulk is pretty green but no longer a rookie.


James, on Ferrari, it looks to me that the gap between Massa to alonso may be that alonso is outperforming the car, and Massa hasn’t been able to do that.

Whats the general consensus on the car? Is Massa underperforming or has alonso made it look better than it is?

It seems to have improved during the year.


you cant “outperform” a car by 0.4s (difference between massa & alonso)

if you can do that time, then the car is capable of doing it


Although I would agree and bet a large amount of money on Ferrari not giving the hulk a seat next year…he wouldn’t be a rookie then 😉


Sadly, the tail is wagging the dog. Sponsors are selling their drivers to the teams rather than teams selling their package (including driver) to the sponsors.

The teams need to invest more in training their commercial staff so that they can pick talent and still attract the same level of sponosrship money. That way everyone would win. The teams would have the best drivers, so the fans would get the best racing and that would mean the sponsors would get much more benefit than this farcical situation we see today.


Interesting, and sad, Hulk has done very well, but the cash Maldonado brings truly stinks.

Funny, how nobody is mentioning the source of Maldonado’s cash, the Venezuelan government who are siphoning off billions of Dollars for themselves via the Oil industry, while the population live in abject poverty.

Chavez, while hiding behind the curtain of Socialism, playing the little man’s hero, is just an old fashioned Kleptocrat, [mod]

It is the truth, check it out, dare you publish it ?


The source of the cash, whilst interesting, is not particulary relevant to the debate about pay drivers versus paid drivers. It would lead to a quagmire as a case could potentially be made against many investors backgrounds!

To my mind the fact it has happened illustrates the financial straits Williams must be under. Maldonado may be GP2 champion but he is hardly a sparkling one. The Hulk has a similar pedigree but has had a decent rookie F1 season and the recent pole suggests great things to come. If finances were not so tight then surely logic would dictate you stay with the semi-proven emerging talent rather than with a rookie.



Just a look at it from a different angle. The testing ban is now in full flight.

How do you think this impacted Hulkenberg’s ability?

It seems that some drivers are natually very quick at picking up a car and going fast while others, maybe hulkenberg seem to take longer but end in a higher place. It seems that poor hulkenberg may be of the later.

1) He is improving throughout the season besting barichello occasionally by the end in quali (no mean feat)

2) Even in GP2, he didn’t win until the 9th race of a 20 race season. He scored 5 wins and won the season 100 point to petrov’s 75.

So do you think this has some relevant impact or is Hulkenberg just failing to live up to expectations?


The reports elsewhere of Williams trying to sign Hulkenburg on a long-term deal and passing him off to HRT kind of struck me as a team that hasn’t come to terms with its position in the pecking order. Perhaps five years ago this might have seemed attractive to him, but with Williams having shown little ability to get back to the front of the grid one has to think he made the right choice in rejecting the deal.


“They have Adrian Sutil, who’s performances have flat lined a bit this year.”

You mean “whose performances”

The Kitchen Cynic

I guess every grand team but two has gone under at some point (and one of those two had to be rescued by a merger with Project4)…would be sad to see Williams follow Brabham, Tyrrell, Lotus, etc etc…


Williams has never really recovered from the loss of Adrian Newey in 1997.

From 2000 – 2005 they had all the ingredients to be the top team, but were consistently let down by the aero package.

I just fear they have slipped too far back now to ever recover. I grew up with Williams and I would be really upset if they went the same way as Tyrrell and Lotus etc


If it weren’t 2009 rule changes, you could have been right to sat it at least, but now, with new rules not stabilized yet and further changes in place, Williams are not that far behind. There or thereabouts. I’m sure they could find the sweetspot of the new aero package in 2011 or 2012.


*received a stop-go penalty


Williams should have won the WCC in 2003 if they didn’t blow it so spectacularly in the final race that season, as well as Montoya being harshly DSQ’ed the race before that.


Sad times at Williams. The loss of all that sponsorship has obviously hit them hard. Gone are the days when they could choose between Mansell, Senna and Prost for their two seats!

Based on the 2nd half of this season I’d have kept the Hulk. His career is on an upward curve and has the potential to be something special.

Barichello is a great guy and a known quantity but lets face it, he isn’t going to get them back to the front of the grid and he isn’t getting any quicker.


James, I think I have mentioned this to you before, but the concept that F1 represents the pinnacle of driving talent in the world is a complete and utter fallacy. This proves it.

While I do think several drivers in F1 are clearly at the level required, the financial commitment of even racing karts is massive.

In terms of young talent it’s now clear that F1 teams are looking at Junior karting to sign up talent. This has meant, as if it wasn’t expensive anyway, that racing karts in Europe has become even more expensive. Upwards of £150k a year. And with maybe only 200-300 teenagers on the planet who can actually afford to race at this level you kinda start to feel as if something isn’t quite right.

Yes Albon, De Vries, Rowland etc… are massively talented… and will no doubt be huge… you have to wonder about the guys who just can’t get the funds together. One in particular – Jordan Chamberlain – who’s had a sterling kart career that rivals the best of them. But now he can’t get anywhere near a budget for Formula Ford!

Now, in regard to Hulkenberg, he’s more than proved he is at the level required to race in F1 but it appears Williams are falling into the ‘mid-grid can’t afford to not have pay drivers category’.

The Hulk has to be commended in refusing to be a pay driver. It’s quite interesting to note that there are karters who are paid more than some F1 pro drivers (some drivers are clearly not on a real wage). If F1 was the pinnacle why are there karters with more monetary value than several F1 drivers? What’s going on here?

Being involved in heavily karting you get to see 90% of the stars of the future, but you also see the guys who are destined never to be wealthy enough to make it. maybe it’s about time a real in-depth look was taken into the situation because people are re-mortgaging their houses on the impossible dreams because the truth isn’t out there, and they aren’t aware of the reality until it’s too late.


Excellent comment Alan Dove but disappointing in the same time. In fact what you’re telling us is that racing drivers are a selection among very few people and that these “heroes” we see driving F1 cars aren’t maybe special at all.

If you compare to football and the level of skill required to reach the top level it’s really disappointing. What if doing karting was as easy as playing football, maybe the Sennas Schumachers Alonsos and Hamiltons would only be average drivers for whom Formula 1 is an impossible target.


Motorsport has never been fair… so many good drivers passed up.

I’m not saying I am the best, but I can’t find sponsorship for my own career at the moment (2010 was my first year since the age of 10 where I didn’t get behind the wheel of a racing vehicle), and had I had a big break with the right team at the right time, who knows what I could have done?

Go out to any track on any day and you can see glimpses of talent in under-funded cars. Then you see the kids in the best of machines and they are doing reasonably well, but you can tell they aren’t the next Senna or Schumacher; however, you can’t beat them because they have the brand-new chassis (yours is two years old), fresh tires for every session (you have to make do in practice with your tires from the last race, thus hampering your set-up), and a crew of 6 milling around you at all times (versus you and your father trying to do everything yourselves). He won all but two of the races, because you could only beat him in the rain. He gets the title, and has the budget to move up to the next series, whereas you’re out of money and not sure if you’re racing the next year. It’s an uphill battle that many of the underdogs don’t get a fair chance at fighting in.

But, that’s the name of the game. As a racer, you’ve always got to be prepared for heartbreak. Whether it’s on the track, off the track, getting beaten, injured, running out of money or not getting your big break, or even getting that big break and either blowing it or having the car fail on you, heartbreak will happen at one point or another in your career. It’s hard to feel sorry for Webber losing the title when he’s had a long career and managed to score some amazing wins… lots of drivers never got that chance! It’s not fair, and I doubt it ever will be. I hope something happens that proves me wrong so the next big thing with scarce budget can make the most of his or her pennies and make a career off their talent!


Nice Point here. I would like to add one thing here – F1 as “Pinnacle” of Motorsports is a big myth cleverly sold on basis of History of F1 where daredevil drivers where negotiating treacherous tracks in ill equipped (but fast) cars risking their lives from corner to corner while the rich and famous (and who aspired to be in that club) were running this cars (ala horse racing) that era is gone, but that allure is still packaged and sold cleverly by those related to F1.

For someone who has been following F1 for better part of last 30 odd years (Since Lauda accident and comeback) I feel modern F1 is just another motor racing series with its own sets of demands on drivers, designers and engineers. Other series like Le Mans and Rally Car racing have their own set of unique challenges for the drivers designers and engineers but its just that these series are not well marketed, hence a general impression of everyone associated F1 and Only F1 is the ultimate challenge in Motorsports.


But is it only because other series are not well marketed?

I would think that F1 is and of itself extremely entertaining. I have seen every major form of racing that takes place in England, the US and Canada and, it seems to me, F1 is the best thrill in town.

The current crop of Le Mans prototypes/ALMS is really interesting, I particularly enjoy the battle between Audi and Peugeot. But all in all, I think F1 is the most impressive race car.

Of course, as you so rightly say, the other series are nowhere near as well marketed as F1, but I think it’s that winning combination of awesome cars and great marketing that places it at the top. YMMV


Indeed. There have been very few seasons between 1950 and 2010 where there hasn’t been a healthy crop of gentleman/funded/pay drivers.

Pay drivers have been in F1/GP/racing forever… nothing will ever change that.


As much as I’d like to believe otherwise you are spot on. Infact as I have grown older and hopefully wiser I’m quite annoyed at elitism of F1. I was tired of dining on F1 only so off I went to some other series to take a peak. What I found was exciting and enjoyable at a better value. I fully enjoye NASCAR at the Glen, and was impressed with it even at the ovals as there is entertainment value there. ALMS at Mosport was very enjoyable on a number of occasions, and anyone out there in F1 land who has not experienced the LMP Audi TDI cars at a race needs to give it a shot. Are we motor sport fans or F1 only? There plenty of motorsport fun out there to be had. I have not yet had the pleasure of a FIA rally event or a GT event in UK.


As much as I enjoyed watching the F1 race in Singapore live, it is not as much fun as going out in the countryside to watch rallying. And those I’ve seen only up to IRC level, never WRC. In my opinion, rallying is actually more fun to go out and watch live, a shame though that it doesn’t seem to translate to TV as well. Also, the current X year dominance of the Loeb/Citroen combination has weened me off following the WRC closely. Kind of like how I stopped watching F1 during the years when Schum/Ferrari won every race anyway.


I think it’s a good point, one that Tony Purnell always used to make. He reckons once you reach the top in karting if you have £4 million you have a 1 in 5 (I think it was) chance of getting to F1.


So, with that in mind, are we really presenting F1 and motorsport is it’s true state?

It’s getting very difficult for me personally to see so many talented drivers just end up having to get ordinary jobs (to pay huge debts) and an ordinary boring life and giving up because they can’t get anywhere near close to achieving the budget required, even for half-decent karting. Motorsport really does put you through hell. I think myself fortunate I was never talented enough, because I am not sure I could deal with the pain.

F1 is sold to the mass-market as being the pinnacle of motorsport, this is how it generates such massive revenues, yet underneath that there is a grave yard of talent who had everything required but the money. This isn;t about not trying hard enough, or not being motivated. You haven’t got the cash you don’t go racing… as simple as that. This is not to beat up on the current crop of F1 drivers because without doubt we have several drivers on the grid now who are extremely good and can be ranked with the best. But even some of those wouldn’t have been there without extreme wealth.

It’s such a hard riddle to really solve James, I don’t think motorsport should really change as such, just a recognition to the wider public it really isn’t as clear cut as it appears. I would love people to enter motorsport, at any level, to enjoy it first and foremost and not get tangled into the web of trying to make it when the reality is so harsh!

Make sure you keep up the good work on the blog dude. Top stuff 🙂


We just need to lower the cost of junior categories and raise the bar for entry performance wise, leaving wealthy drivers with less talent to tread a gentleman route while the talents go on a professional route. Hopefully the FIA Academy will help identify some talents and then these can meet up with some commercial backing


This is a shame for the Hulk, who I think has been fantastic this year. That said, Williams only do racing, and that requires money. They’ve taken pay drivers in the past, and there’s no shame in that. Very few drivers ascend to Formula 1 without some sort of backing – be it a government or an energy drink’s driver program.

Fingers crossed we see Williams at the front of the grid more often next season.


Weird decision – perhaps Hulkenberg was not too keen to be placed at HRT for the benefit of a pay driver. It is a worry for F1 that only Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull are now not adopting pay drivers (or whatever team managers are calling them these days). Whilst they have always been a part of F1 it was generally accepted that only a seat at the back was for sale for a driver’s learning period. The other worrying trend is the selection of drivers based purely on nationality – being Russian, Indian or German will apparnetly now ease your path into F1 if only for marketing reasons – drivers should be in the midfield or top teams purely on performance and nothing else. By following these policies teams are (a) admitting that F1 teams are living beyond their means, (b) that not much sponsorship is available in the current climate and (c) that they are firmly ensconced as second division outfits.

It would, however, be a real injustice if Hulkenberg took away Paul DiResta’s likely opportunity at Force India. After beating Vettel in F3 he would now be in F1 if he was German or had sponsorship money. F1 is supposed to be about ultimate performance of the best drivers and the best teams – can you imagine the paymasters at Man U or Chelsea insisting that their grandson or nephews were put in the team ahead of talented youngsters? Of course not, as that would be ridiculous…


And he has one of the wisest managers out there in Willi Webber. You only have to see what happened to Sennas stock going to HRT this season, to understand if they did turn down an HRT drive for next year.

Senna narrowly missed out on the car that won the world championship last year (he was expected to join Honda before the Brawn buyout), then put in the worst car in his team and the grid (if the stories of the differences between his and the other HRT are true).

These young guys seem to get 1 season, 2 seasons max, unless they are from a driver programme (like Buemi and Algersuari).


Its bad times for hulk and Williams.

I think Frank and Patrick should step down completely and sell the remainder of the team. It’s so sad to see the once mighty Williams taking pay drivers.

I feel sorry for hulk as well. Just another driver who makes it to f1 for one season


I think Frank and Patrick should step down completely and sell the remainder of the team. It’s so sad to see the once mighty Williams taking pay drivers.

>> As Williams Fan I ponder often on that possibility, but the question is to sell the team to whom? There are not many Austrians in current market who have Deep pocket selling cans of energy drinks 🙁

Fresh Blood in Design, Operations and Race management team is what my team needs in Long term.

Someone with extra Billions $$$ would help short term though


I’m harshly criticizing both Frank and Patrick but I don’t want them to step down. Behind Ferrari they’re with McLaren the corner stones of F1. I hope that they can recover and that Frank wins a title before stepping down.

If they keep their current form, I agree with you, I’d rather see them sell the team. By the way, I’ve never heard of Williams hiring top engineers from rival teams in recent years.

As for selling the team, Peter Sauber showed that it was possible to do it by tying links with Mexican Slim and he did it with a team which won nothing and which isn’t based in the UK.


They already did it as part of the Toyota engine deal.

This is the worst possible time in the economy for them to lose 3 major sponsors.

I think they will sit and watch Hulkenberg turn into an absolute star in the next 5 years. But no point having a fast driver, and no budget to develop the car. Its a lose lose situation. They are probably pegging their hopes on Rubens development of the car for the future.

I don’t think Maldonado is a bad driver by the way, but I definitely think Hulkenberg is a much better prospect.


Hi James,

A shame about Hulkenberg, but i’m sure other opportunities will open up. Glad Rubens is staying on another year, the paddock would be a lesser place without him.

Do you know for sure that Webber is staying another season? I know he has said he is, but i’m doubtful judging by his comments and general body language…


We’ll hear more of Rubens moaning about Schuey


I personally hope Webber stays for next year. If he walks away now, I think he will loose a lot of respect he rightly received from his performances this year. To leave is to say he can’t compete. And while it might be thought of as noble, its not very Australian. Besides, look at Irvine in ’99.


But what if DM hasn’t been pleased at all with Webber’s bad-mouthing them these past months?

He’s even tried to subtly claim that he was part of the strategy that helped Vettel secure the WDC when in fact, he had lost his tire and desperately needed to pit. Smells of trying to get the public to believe in what sort of a good guy he is but I see through him and all those times he shouldn’t have passed judgment on other rivals and his team.

Didn’t Gene recently say that Mark confided in him and is absolutely miserable in RB? What’s with eating the humble pie now and doing a 180? I smell a rat!


Good question. Things have got pretty tense, but RBR need a driver who can deliver lots of points to defend the constructors’ championship


After all the dirty linen Mr.Webber has washed in public this season,RBR should be really dumb to retain him for next season. With a car as good as theirs,i am sure there are plenty of takers for that second seat.

a) Heidfeld

b) Hulkenberg

c) Kovalainen

These are some of the names i can readily think of who can fit in their and deliver without too much drama.


Just watched “Sport und Talk aus dem Hangar-7” with Webber, Vettel, Newey, Horner, Coulthard etc. I am sure that Webber will stay at Red Bull. He was disappointed but very professional. There was a better atmosphere than I expected. Webber wants to improve and challenge Vettel in the next season.



any chance you could do an article on the driver market, as in who is and who is not yet announced for 2011?




the market it’s almost set up this year.


Indeed, Mark has shown himself capable of doing just that, gaining points for the constructors. The current partnership may be fiery, but as we can see in the points tables it seems to have worked!

Mark does seem disheartened though, and I can’t help but think that Nico losing his drive could turn out a blessing in disguise if Mark does leave… if you get my drift.

Thanks for the blog again James, spend alot of my time on here, only recently started commenting though!




He can have Massa’s seat if he wants????


Hm… what the **** happens at Williams? Barrichello is experienced and he can develop cars (up to some point!) but his skills during the racing weekend are rather limited and he surely can’t drive Williams in the team’s way to recovery. And this new guy, Maldonado… he was brought in only because of his money. If Williams starts to hire drivers on financial grounds rather than for their talent… then the team’s future is black. Which is SAD.


Give the Maldonado guy a break… the guy is the current GP2 champion – what more can he do!? Sure he did win it in his 4th season of GP2 racing which is longer than the likes of Rosberg and Hamilton, but as we’ve seen with Kobayashi it doesn’t necessarily correlate with F1 success.

It’s also not like Giorgio Pantano either (who won GP2 last season) who proved he didn’t cut it in F1 all those years ago.


I think Hulkenberg won it last season. 😉


I am not judging Maldonado. At least not yet. The point I wanted to make is that Williams mustn’t start hiring drivers that pay to be in Formula 1. This was the beginning of the end for many teams and I am afraid it will be for Williams too.


It was in the pipeline a long time ago and if anything the Hulk pole position was more embarrassing for Williams leaders than satisfying.

The bills have to paid and no one can blame Williams for having to raise money for their own survival. In that respect, it was a odd to hear Adam Parr stating that the team was in excellent financial situation. No team in excellent financial situation take a paying driver.

James, your post emphasized the Hulk prospects and they look slim. Renault needs Petrov money and Bernie will push for him to stay given the high prospects of Russian implication in F1. Lotus seems locked up and the other new teams aren’t intersting. Mercedes will relish having him as a 3rd driver I guess but the difference with Hakkinen 3rd driver situation in McLaren or Alonso in Renault is that back then 3rd drivers did maybe as much mileage as a regular driver during the season. There was so much testing. Nowadays, as Hiedfeld pointed out, there’s nothing to do but simulator’s laps. So a very hard situation to find himself in. Maybe ForceIndia is an interesting prospect if he can step for Liuzzi but the team looks on the back foot recently.

Something you didn’t mention James is Williams situation. This decision is a big blow for Williams reputation. Nowadays it’s already a given that Williams is a midfield team but the longer it gets the further down they slide.

The Japanese driver last year was already a financial choice and Malodando is exactly that. How can a team with paying drivers look attractive for sponsors and partners ? If a car manufacturer step in in the future it’s very unlikely, they’ll go for a Williams partnership. The team is weak and their fruitless association with BMW is a bad omen. At the time not only BMW gave them a free competitive engine but injected money in the team. At the end, the Germans decided to go their own way and beat Williams immediately.

At the same time, Williams behaves as a huge team. They build their own gearboxes, they develop their own KERS, they even sell the gearbox and the hydraulics.

RedBull on the contrary doesn’t develop KERS yet they’re the best in the buisness. Sauber with Ferrari’s engine and gearbox bought in the last minute is on the same level and so is Force India so why does Williams keep doing everything ! They should concentrate on the aero department plus some mechanical stuff. If they manage to raise their game, they can invest in other departments but it looks more and more unlikely.

For Williams now the big teams are uncatchable and they have to defend against Sauber with Slim backing and Lotus. Sadly Malodando won’t be a big help.


Williams are, and always have been, Williams Grand Prix Engineering. For Frank and Patrick, the engineering part is absolutely part of the companies DNA and not something that they would be willing to eliminate. This has led them to their current situation, unfortunately. I hope that once the new concorde agreement is signed and more money starts to flow they will be able to invest more in tehcnology without having to rely on pay drivers. I hope they will still be able to fight their corner until that point. Somehow, I don’t see them pushing their way to the front in the way Red Bull have over the past few years.

The Kitchen Cynic

ACtually they’ve only been WGPE since the last time they went bust and had to be bought out…


But KERS isn’t costing Williams money, on the contrary it’s a seperate part of the business and is profitable in it’s own right. Stop doing it and they are worse off, not better.


Very summarized, both situation of Hulk and his other alternatives (actually none in these days of lack in-season testing) of good seats, and situation of Williams and many choices they have been making over the years.

What Williams needs is major shakedown and some bitter decisions. While Williams has done well in Winter testing, they have struggled to keep up with upgrades (If they had, they should have beaten Brawn in 2009, But Honda Money won hands down) and progress over the season.

Its catch 22 situation for team where lack of funds means lack of good car development which means lack of results, which in turn results in the team is no more attractive to front running drivers, designers and engineers. And lack of results means the team is not attractive to sponsors( all of whom flock to the likes of McLarens and Ferraris). I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of Williams Sponsors showing on rival cars in 2011.

What hurts is their racing team is not agile as say Sauber FIF1 and Renault, who have taken some bold race strategy decisions in recent year and converted those half chances into points.

Williams need some one like James Key or Pat Symonds in Operations and Pitwall to turn thing around and start delivering results and in turn make the team more attractive for drivers and sponsors alike.

Williams is stuck vicious cycle and hurts a Lifelong Williams fan in me.


Some good points there Jo. I guess on the tech side, they already have the expertise in house, and the equipment to produce the kit already.

I just hope this secures their short term future and budget, and that if rubens retires in 1-2 yrs time they have positioned themselves with enough success to get sponsors joining them (rather than as part of a driver deal).


With test ban in season, Test driver role is no longer ideal for less-experienced young drivers nowadays, which ruins their precious and limited time just watching their rival running in the garage and hanging around the paddock.

Hulk should drive even a slow car in the field , say HRT or Virgin, to improve his race sense and learn from real F1 races.

The most important thing is he survives in F1 by fair means or foul whether he pays for the drive or not, drives a fast machine or slow one.


Funny you mention that, as Williams’ plan was to sign him to a multi-year deal and farm him out to HRT for a year or two, similar to their deal with Button. Seems Nico wasn’t a huge fan of that idea.


Another awesome notes from you, James.

As for Petrov, our prime-minister is backing F1 and after his test drive (you did highlighte it recently)on Renault car with Mr.Lopez I can asume that Vitaly has already booked his seat for 2011.

Obviously will keep visiting this amazing site on a daily basis for fresh and interesting news and awaiting my signed book impatiently:))


James, I see it a little differently:

Schumacher is a long term project for Mercedes. It makes no sense that Nico Hulkenberg is going to replace Schumacher in 2012 as 2013 will be the year when Williams might have a Porsche engine.

So here’s my thoughts:


– Petrov to Marusia Virgin Racing. Which is very likely as fellow Belgian d’Ambrosio doesn’t seem to get his drive at Virgin

– Nico Hulkenberg to Renault.

2012 or 2013:

Nico Hulkenberg stays at Renault or re-joins Williams when Rubens Barrischello leaves.


I think Renault are after a more reliable driver to replace Petrov, hence why they’ve been talking to Heidfeld. Hulk might be too inexperienced for them.


Petrov being Russian (not Belgian!!), means that a move to Virgin could well be on the cards, perhaps a good shout. Although I can’t see him going to Renault. It’s possible, though I would’ve thought Heidfeld or Kovalainen would have been a better replacement.


Marussia stated straight away that they have no plans of signing Petrov for next year – as they say, they don’t want to ruin his career =)


nonesense. He will be driving for renault. like maldonado, he’ll bring a lot of money from sponsors. Nothing wrong with that from my point of view, as long as they have the pace.


There was a time when the idea of Williams dropping a driver of the quality of Hulkenberg for someone with money was unthinkable. It’s sad how the once mighty team has fallen.

I hope that Nico gets a good competitive drive where he can continue to show his talents. I believe he easily has the talent to be battling with Vettel, Alonso, & Hamilton at the front of the field if he had the right equipment.

If he makes the wrong career choice now I fear he could become the next Nick Heidfeld.


Michael might only do two years of his contract?


There is constant speculation because he isn’t performing as people expected; however, I have never felt Schumacher has let his lack of performance get at him the way it has excited many of the pundits.

I do see his accident at Abu Dhabi giving him greater cause to reflect on his future in the sport. Had he not rolled forwards towards the Force India it would have hit his head and broken his neck. In my mind, it is the nastiest accident in F1 since Robert Kubica’s 2007 Canada smash. It might not have been as spectacular as Webber airbourne moment, but F1 cars are designed to survive high impact collisions, the driver’s necks are not designed to take the momentum of an F1 car at the head.


DC going inches from Werz’s head could have been nasty, OZ 07 if I remember correctly.


Yes, Schumacher’s accident was absolutely horrible. You could see that reality all over Norbert Haug’s face – bleached white with fear. Imagine having to apologize to Corinna for bringing her husband back to die in one of his cars – to say nothing of the business consequences for Mercedes. It would be like their Le Mans catastrophe all over again, possibly pushing them out of the sport.

I remember Hamilton being spun around by Massa a couple of years ago (Monza??) and facing directly into the traffic exiting a corner. The very real possibility of being decapitated is unavoidable in such situations, no matter what else we do to make open-wheeled cars safer. These men are incredibly brave to accept this risk.


Fuji 2008


Confirms what i have thought for years-Williams are finished.To get rid of one of the top drivers in F1 shows that they are just a middle of the road team now.


Couldn’t agree more. Williams don’t look like they’re gonna be anything more than a midfield team ever again. I used to support them a bit when Rosberg was there, but treating drivers like this just stinks.

Would be interesting to do a proper statistical analysis to see how much pay drivers (of say the past 10 years) have brought in versus how much they have lost teams (in terms of money lost in constructors points).


I think if Williams could do what they wanted, they’d keep Hulk in a heartbeat. Thier unfortunate financial situation (losing all ther major sponsors for 2011)has forced them into this move.


I remember Mclaren sucking for quite a long time after they lost their Honda engine deal.

That was why Senna left for Williams.

Williams could turn it around just as easily. A factory engine deal in 2013, some bright new designer, and some luck it could change just like that.


WHile I agree that Nico is a great prospect, he is not one of the top drivers yet, he needs time. Im sad that Williams didnt keep him, but they need money to stay afloat right now. I think Nico, given time, will be one of the top drivers, this might be the best thing to happen to him. I thik MercedesGP looms for him.


Dont agree-he is one of the top drivers-his performances in A1 GP,Euro F3 and GP2 were as good as anything i have seen in the last few years and i would take him over Webber,Massa,Rubens and the like.Pole in his rookie season even given the changing track conditions is pretty special.How Buemi,Liuzzi and even Alguesari still have a drive is beyond me!


You don’t think he had an agressive setup compared to others for that pole?


You rightly mention Adam Parr.

I would have thought that all big teams have people working round the clock to ensure adequate sponsorship and funding. That way they can run the driver they want.

The reserve driver role may be best development route but he needs to get mileage under his belt. Current testing restrictions make it much more difficult to nurture new talent.


Blimey, another GP2 winner loses his F1 seat. James, any numbers on success rates of drivers from GP2 (F3000) to F1 who have lasted two or more seasons?


not to forget mark webber and nick heidfeld


Other GP2 guys who didn’t last in F1 are Scott Speed and Piquet Jr. Kovalainen has lasted pretty well.

If I’m not mistaken, 3 of the last 4 champions skipped the step below F1 (GP2 or F3000).


Good question! Rosberg and Hamilton or course


Sorry to answer my own question, but i had a quiet lunch break.

By my (rough) reckoning, 52% of f3000/gp2 champions since 1985-2009 have participated in 2 or more F1 seasons. Only two of these champions have fought for an F1 drivers title (although I think 97 would have been different if Panis had not crashed in Canada). Only Hamilton has won both.

Of course if you cast the net wider and look at all divers who have competed in F3000/GP2 and 2 seasons of F1, the picture changes.

Still, wouldn’t mind seeing what is (statistically) the most sucessful route to F1.


Another few are Glock, Kovalainen, Buemi, Nakajima lasted 2 seasons and 1 race (just about!).

Then we have Kobayashi who has been retained for next year. Also Piquet Jr, who competed in 1.5 years worth of F1.

The drivers that graduate really have been hit and miss in terms of real success. Though not one has been a truly bad driver. I think GP2 has been a good feeder series so far!


We can also add Bourdais (F3000 champion), Liuzzi (F3000 champion), Montoya (F3000 champion), Bernoldi, Barrichello. The list goes on…


then let’s not burn maldonado before he has time to show what he’s got, besides a track full of dollars. Hamilton had lots of money from dennis and people’s percepcion was somehow different.


Formula One – where money talks and talent walks.

I’m so disappointed for Hulkenburg. He was a genuinely impressive rookie, the best of this years GP2 drivers. Infinitely better than Vitaly ‘how many different ways can I break a Renault’ Petrov.

Hulkenburg was only beaten because Petrov was given a superior car, allowing him to get closer to the front in qualifying. I can’t imagine him getting a pole position in the rain in interlagos.

After, Petrov fell off the track in the rain in Korea. Hulkenburg generally drove the wheels off that Williams car.

Bitterly disappointed – I’d thought Williams would have more integrity than this. Lets hope he gets another credible drive next year.

James, would you say that the prevalence in pay drivers in F1 these days is due to the lack of money coming from FOM? Do you think this will change when they renegotiate the contracts in 2013?


We’ve got an analysis tool that shows exactly what you say, if you compare Hulkenberg to Petrov based on their cars ability, you find Hulk is the better performer.

(and you can compare him to any other driver, requires firefox, Safari or chromium)


Me and my friends get together and race each other on the Wii. I win a lot. My Dad has some college money put away for me but maybe I’ll use it to get a seat in F1 instead.


To my mind, the situation regarding pay drivers is better now than previously. Remember the days of Minardi, Prost, Arrows, etc? They all had at least one pay driver on the go all the time. There seem to be fewer these days, though perhaps I’m being naive.


Slightly smaller grid these days and a higher level of professionalism perhaps?

I mean, it’s not quite the days of pre-qualifying and the 107% rule.

I have to confess, I’m a little young to the sport for Minardi and Arrows – Super Aguri is about my level (actually, maybe point proved!)


Could be. That’s some way off being sorted though. Budgets have come down, so the gap between FOM income and cost of running a team ie what you ned to bridge with sponsorship, is smaller than before but still circa £40 million for a decent midfield team



Sorry off topic…

Thanks for the great coverage of Abu Dhabi on the weekend with Greg and channel ‘One.’

You always speak so well and shed so much light into F1…it makes the sport very entertaining…

It’s unbelievable that I was watching you at Abu Dhabi several days ago on tv and here I am talking to you via email…

Can you please advise what arrangement you have with channel ‘One’ to provide your reporting coverage services…?

Do you have a soft spot for Australia and was hoping Webber would take the championship..?




please come back to Britain i cant take Legard anymore. “and the lotus has lost its front wing” front wing, clearly in view, rear wing clearly off “its the rear wing” Brundle corrects. “well it doesnt matter its still a wing, and hes still out” all at the top of his god darned annoying voice.


I have a contract with them. I like Australia, yes. I have family there and I enjoy going there each year for the GP. Although I like him and we get on well, no special support for Webber over other drivers, however.


Sorry for the Hulk. I wish him the best, I think he deserves a good seat. Probably his best decission could be joining Mercedes as a test driver, as you say, and wait for Schuey to retire after 2011 season.

What other movements are in prospect, James? Have you heard anything about Jaime Alguersuari? Will he hold his seat at Toro Rosso, or do you think that he is somehow in danger of being dismissed the same way the Hulk has been?

I do see that there is life after Abu Dhabi… 😀


Alguersuari and Buemi were confirmed some time ago, but Buemi’s not had a great time lately. Ricciardo test this week might jog things a bit. More likely he’ll do GP2 next year


Desperately harsh on Hulkenberg, and a sad state of affairs at Williams – dropping a great new talent for a untested (in F1) pay driver is not the Williams of even 5 years ago.


Not sure Williams “dropped him”, as much as they probably made him an offer that Weber couldn’t swallow.

I’d have imagined a long-term lock-in deal (4 or 5 years at least, all the options stacked in one direction, and at typical Williams driver payrates), with 2011 spent farmed out somewhere, and then back when Rubens retires.

Weber must know exactly what Shumi’s plans are, so the idea of Mercedes reserve, and then a Team Deutschland drive sorta sounds like it makes sense to me.


Its the harsh realities of being a business. Hulk has shown some real skill this season and i hope he gets that 2nd Force India seat (for his sake, even if i think FI would be better off trying to get a driver like Massa), he has certainly proved that he belongs in F1.

I just feel a bit sorry for Williams, once again they have faced an embarrasment of drivers. I just hope that Monaldo brings more than just money to the team. Keeping Rubens seems to me to be really important as I am sure he has worked wonders for the team both in and out of the car this season.


Barrrichello is not worth a penny. The guy is slow. And don’t even talk to me about his 1543 Grand Prix starts. Before him, the previous owner of that record was Riccaro Patrese. Did anyone in his right mind thought Patreses was a great driver, did anyone beg him to not retire? No. He keeps going to accumulate more money, since the security standards of today Formula One are fortunately so high, he knows he can keep getting his paycheck with minimum risk, and without putting all the pressure on the throttle. Williams should get rid of him, and fast.


I think he’s realised now that Brazil will be his swansong


There was a really good interview of Rubens by Tom Clarkson on the Williams podcast.

What Rubens brought to the team was conversion of wind tunnel data on the live track and his ability to interpret the data back to the engineers.

From the moment they understood him, they were able to make significant aero gains (Canada onwards).

That type of knowledge is worth championship points, therefore millions.

It is a great shame for Hulkenberg who I rate superior to someone of the caliber of Sutil (I watched both of them in A1GP driving the same car at the same track – Eastern Creek Raceway).

I hope he gets a drive next year. He deserves it after putting the Williams on pole in Brazil.

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