Nico Hulkenberg 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.
Hulkenberg’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.
Hulkenberg 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.
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.
Read more: list of 2011 F1 drivers and teams
Image © Williams/LAT