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Hulkenberg turned down Virgin drive - Weber

ESPNF1 Staff
January 18, 2011 « Williams going ahead with Valencia debut for FW33 | »
Willi Weber has been trying to find a seat for Nico Hulkenberg since he was dropped by Williams © Getty Images

Nico Hulkenberg's manager Willi Weber has revealed his driver turned down an opportunity to race with Virgin in 2011 and is instead pursuing a Friday testing role with a bigger team.

Hulkenberg lost his Williams race seat to Pastor Maldonado over the winter, but has struggled to find a replacement drive in the current money-orientated driver market. In recent months he has been closely linked to a Friday test drive at Force India, but with the race line-up at the team waiting to be finalised, nothing has been confirmed.

Weber said Hulkenberg was offered Jerome d'Ambrosio's seat at Virgin, but turned it down because there would have been little to gain.

"For someone like Nico, with a season already behind him, there is little to learn from a small team," Weber told Auto Motor und Sport. "There was an offer from Virgin which was very pleasing, but with another German in Timo Glock, who has been there for a while already, the risk was too great."

He added that Hulkenberg would be better off with an established team, even if it is just as a Friday test driver.

"We have been thinking: shall we pause for a year? But in today's world you are too quickly forgotten. So I think it is better for Nico to still have a presence with a good team where at least he can practice on the Fridays. That is the ideal alternative for him."

He added: "Before anything is said officially, I can't say anything myself."

Weber also said he is concerned about the F1's shift towards employing pay drivers.

"F1 needs to be careful about creating a two-class society, with 14 real drivers and ten pay drivers," he said. "In that way, I refuse to pay for a cockpit for Nico. If you do it once, you will always be needing to bring money, and more and more. Very quickly, this becomes your image. Rather, I want to sell performance. This boy is too good to be paying to drive."

It is unclear whether the Virgin offer would have involved Hulkenberg paying for his seat as d'Ambrosio will.