Williams keeps Barrichello, dumps Hulkenberg as 2011 grid fills up

How the mighty have fallen. The saying could apply to none better than it does to Williams, the F1 team that was once at the pinnacle of grand prix racing but has long since fallen to the bottom. One driver managed to bring them back to the top this season – if only briefly – but the team has elected to let him go for next season.

That driver is Nico Hulkenberg, and his impressive feat was putting his Williams FW32 on pole in Brazil a couple of weeks ago – the first pole for Williams in five years. Unfortunately he didn't manage to hold on to the lead, but the pole position in and of itself proved his mettle.

Unfortunately for Nico, Williams has announced that it has elected not to renew his contract for next season. They are, however, keeping Rubens Barrichello on board – undoubtedly a more experienced driver, if not necessarily more talented.

So where will Hulkenberg end up next season? Most of the seats are already spoken for, with only Force India, HRT and Lotus yet to confirm their driver pairings and solo seats still up for grabs at Renault and Virgin (as well as Williams). Details of the announcement in the press release after the jump.

[Source: Williams | Image: Lorenzo Bellanca/LAT/Williams]
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Barrichello Confirmed for 2011
15 November 2010

The AT&T Williams team today announced that Rubens Barrichello will continue to drive for the team in 2011. The team's second driver will be confirmed before the end of the year.

Rubens Barrichello enjoyed a successful first season with Williams, and his 18th in the sport. The Brazilian drove his FW32 into the qualifying top ten a total of 13 times and claimed 10 points scoring finishes over the year, all of which helped the team move forward to sixth place in the Constructors' Championship at yesterday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The team can also confirm that Nico Hulkenberg will not contest the 2011 FIA World Championship with AT&T Williams. Nico joined the squad as a rookie at the start of the season, following a dominating career in Formula 3 and GP2 supported by Williams. Convincing performances in his debut year in Formula One culminated in 14th place in the Drivers' Championship and an undoubtedly bright future in the sport. The team wishes to thank Nico for his dedication and team work over the past year, and for delivering a memorable first pole position in five seasons for the team at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Of the announcement Frank Williams, Team Principal of the AT&T Williams team, 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."

Frank continued, "We recruited Rubens to Williams knowing that he would bring technical expertise, experience and passion. He has delivered everything we could have hoped for this season and we are delighted to confirm that he will drive for us again in 2011."

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