• 2011 Season

Hulkenberg faces life as a reserve

ESPNF1 Staff
November 23, 2010 « Ricciardo success puts pressure on Buemi | »
Niko Hulkenberg ... a waiting game © Getty Images

Nico Hulkenberg could become a reserve driver in 2011 after efforts to find him a Formula One seat following his release by Williams look set to founder.

Following a shining formative career with titles in A1, European F3 and the F1 feeder series GP2, 23-year-old Hulkenberg stumbled at the first hurdle in Formula One by losing his race seat for 2011.

Efforts to secure potential comparative seats with Renault and Force India look set to come to nothing, leaving manager Willi Weber reportedly believing a top test position is the best remaining alternative.

Weber told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport that it is a more attractive option to be "the third man in a top team than the first man with a backmarker" adding that during a season with a straggler, "you learn nothing and your career is going backwards".

Mercedes chief Norbert Haug played down rumours linking Hulkenberg with his team. "There's currently no contact," he said, while praising his potential. "His car didn't drive itself to pole position in Brazil. A GP2 champion and someone on pole in Formula One must of course be very capable."

And he disagrees with Weber that a top test role is better than a race seat with a smaller team. "If he wants to keep his career going in a straight line, he would be better off racing with a second or even third-rate team."