Williams have confirmed that Pastor Maldonado will be racing for the team next season alongside veteran Rubens Barrichello.
Maldonado, the current GP2 champion takes the race seat of recently released Nico Hulkenberg, the man who delivered the team its first pole position for 6 years at Brazil.
It will mark the first time in over 30 years that a Venezuelan has taken the wheel of a Formula One car.
“I feel very privileged that Williams has selected me as one of their race drivers,” Maldonado said. “It is a great way to end what has already been an amazing year for me.
“I tested with the team in Abu Dhabi, but can’t wait to start working with everyone properly to be in the best possible shape going into next year. I will be doing my best over the winter to prepare myself, and I know the team will be working hard to ensure a successful season.
“2011 will be the first time in nearly 30 years that a Venezuelan has driven a Formula 1 car so I will be looking to get some good results in return for the support my country has given me to help get me to this position today.”
Sir Frank Williams, team owner added:
“Pastor first caught my eye in 2007 when he drove a masterful race at Monaco,” Williams said. “Since then, he has regularly reminded us of his unquestionable talent with some skilful wins, particularly during this year’s GP2 championship, taking an unsurpassed record of six successive victories.
“Of course, we already know Pastor from the time he spent with the team at the Abu Dhabi test, but we are very much looking forward to developing his talent over
the winter and a fruitful season with him next year.”
Various drivers had the opportunity to test the new Pirelli tyres today in the first test at Abu Dhabi. While only driving their 2010 machines, it will give them the chance to evaluate the new rubber from the Italian manufacturer.
Here’s what a variety of the drivers thought about the tyres following the test.
Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing):
“Given the short amount of time Pirelli had, I think they did a good job,” said world champion Sebastian Vettel, who set the second-fastest time of the day. “It’s a good start and it was good to be back in the car.
“You need to give the car a bit of time to adapt to the tyres. We need to work on the set-up, but I think it’s a common view that the tyres have behaved pretty well and probably better than a lot of people expected.”
Rubens Barrichello (Williams):
“I’ve been positively impressed,” said Barrichello. “The track is a little bit different because I think they polished the asphalt because of the Bridgestone rubber.
“I don’t think it’s time to make comparisons, but I thought it was positive. I did 42 laps in the morning and it was okay. They are different to Bridgestones and we need to keep learning. We could not expect a completely different tyre to work the same way. I quite like the challenge.”
Felipe Massa (Ferrari):
“The harder compound has a lot of degradation and it’s not as quick as I expected,” Massa said.
“As for the softer tyre, I was very happy with it. It’s quick, degradation is very good. I did long runs with both and the one I did with the softer tyre was very good, possibly better than what I had last Sunday in the race.
“Of course, again, they’ll have to work to improve the harder compound they brought here, but that’s what this test was all about. Pirelli saw what happened, listened to our suggestions and understood the situation.”
Robert Kubica (Renault):
“It’s difficult to compare because we had a race five days ago and the track has changed quite a lot due to the testing and the rubber that was laid down,” said Kubica. “I’m sure that the track grip is much better than it was in the race.
“This makes it difficult to compare them – there’s no point really in comparing them. There’s quite a big difference. It is always pretty interesting when you change tyres to feel the difference and make some set-up changes and stuff like this.
“It’s just to get an idea for next year’s car which characteristics will work best. We will never get track conditions with so much rubber on the race weekends, so actually I don’t think it’s so significant, this test. A lot of the young drivers had many sets of new tyres! Although the track was washed yesterday, I didn’t recognise it. It was like a different track.”
Nico Rosberg (Mercedes Benz):
“They’re at least similar [to Bridgestone's] or perhaps for worse for us at the moment”
“…In the big picture, they are pretty similar in the end to the Bridgestones, but if you are then looking for the fine tuning to extract the performance there is some way to go on adapting the set-up.
“At the moment, we have done the small things that you can do at the track but there are the bigger things that you need to take care of with the car development. That’s going to be one of the areas that are very important for success for next year.”
Williams have announced that Rubens Barrichello will race for the team once again next season, but talented rookie Nico Hulkenberg will be leaving the Grove based team.
Barrichello, who is the most experienced F1 driver of all time, had a relatively successful season with the British team headed up by Sir Frank Williams.
“We recruited Rubens knowing he would bring technical expertise, experience and passion,” said Williams. “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.”
Meanwhile, Nico Hulkenberg has told reporters he will be leaving the team. The young German, who gave Williams their first pole position since 2005, said he was disappointed to be leaving.
“I heavily regret that,” Hulkenberg said in a statement. “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, Wili Weber says that Nico will have a race seat next season.
“I am negotiating with other teams,” Weber said. “Nico will have his seat in F1 in 2011.”
He has only a limited number of options for next season, so it will be interesting to see where he ends up racing.
Rubens Barrichello, the most experienced F1 driver of all time, has said as much as he enjoys driving at Suzuka the trackside safety is not quite up to standard when compared with other new circuits around the world.
The Brazilian, who races with Williams this season, said that the safety and run off areas were not quite as good as they are on many of the newer circuits.
He added however that he, and the rest of the grid did really enjoy driving at the track.
“It is [on the limit], it’s kind of adrenaline all the time, and the drivers love it and appreciate it so much,” said Barrichello.
“The work that has been done has helped, but it is still – if you take the esses for example – an old-fashioned circuit that could do with a little more run-off area.
“There are two ways of looking at it. Being a racing driver you end up being a bit mad anyway, so you like to work with that adrenaline and having the walls alongside and so on.
“But for a simple, normal guy, you would like to see more asphalt, because crashes in those areas are not easy ones.”
Rubens Barrichello has declared that he hopes the Williams F1 Team offer him a new contract to race with them through the 2011 season, following a relatively successful first season with the team which has seen him score points in the last few races.
Barrichello is the most experienced F1 driver of all time, and should hit his 300th race this season having completed 297 so far (post Silverstone 2010).
He spent the last season with Brawn GP, finishing 3rd in the championship behind team mate Jenson Button. Previously the popular Brazilian drove for Ferrari, Honda and Jordan.
“I hope so. I think it would the natural thing,” Barrichello said of staying at the team.
“Obviously I haven’t signed any contract just yet. I am not talking to anybody else.
“As I said I think Williams would be doing the wrong thing if they were thinking of something else because they already put into the programme of next year so it would be a waste not to be driving.”
“Right now it is almost a waste of time not to have me in the car and driving,” he said. “In terms of speed I am performing better than ever and I think this positiveness is just making such a change.
“And people say well, you are not winning races, how can you be so positive? Well it’s because as a team you have got to believe as a team we’ll produce something that will put us back to the podium area, and then maybe next year make a good car that can effectively bring the first place.”
Meanwhile his teams technical director, Sam Michael, complimented the Brazilian on his fantastic job with the team so far this year.
“Rubens is doing a great job driving our development programme as well as delivering strong qualifying performances and race results,” said Michael.
“We are very satisfied with his contribution to the team as a whole and specifically with the role he is playing when it comes to which direction we take with the car.”
A former team mate of Michael Schumacher who wished to remain anonymous has made the audacious claim that Schumacher is no longer good enough to drive in Formula One.
Schumacher, 41, rejoined Formula One in a shock move just before Christmas to race for the all German Mercedes Benz team alongside Nico Rosberg. However, any fears that his neck would not be able to cope with the pressures following a motorbike accident in Germany were muted because of the performance of the former world champion. He has yet to beat his team mate in a race, and despite scoring regular points thanks to the new 10 place scoring system he has been relatively poor with his racing.
One would have thought he would excel in the damp conditions seen in China, the sort of races where he would dominate back when driving for Ferrari, however he did not, with fumbled tyre changes and a genuine air of nervousness over his car-pit radio system.
“I can tell you, he was always very vulnerable when he lost, whenever I beat him; it was as if he needed a cuddle afterwards.” One of his former team mates told The Independent newspaper.
“You can see his head has dropped after four races in which Rosberg has been quicker; he just isn’t used to that. He is the kind of guy who even when we were at the Madonna di Campiglia pre-season skiing publicity event with Ferrari in the old days, he had to be the fastest. And if he wasn’t, he would keep demanding another go until he was. That’s how driven he used to be.
“After the beating he got on Sunday, in conditions in which the old Michael Schumacher excelled, I don’t think he’ll ever come back to his old level.”
Speculation is now rife to the source, which has been touted as former team mate Eddie Irvine who moved to Jaguar in 2000 after a few seasons with Ferrari, or perhaps Rubens Barrichello who now races with Williams and spent much of his time with Ferrari in the shade of the former master.
Rubens Barrichello and Robert Kubica have both been fairly vocal in their criticisms of Lewis Hamilton after the British driver weaved across the track 3 times to block Vitaly Petrov at the Malaysian Grand Prix 2 weeks ago.
The Russian driver attempted to get a tow, or slipstream, off the McLaren down the straight at Sepang, but was blocked by Hamilton when he attempted to overtake, but Hamilton swerved across the track multiple times which is in breach of the rules which state you can only move across once to block.
Hamilton was only hit with a warning, the other drivers think he should have been punished.
“I don’t think this is the right thing to do,” said Barrichello in China on Thursday. “When I saw it I was by myself watching the TV and I was quite critical of it. It he was beside me I would have given him some bollocking because it wasn’t right.
“There are arguments to cover that, to say that he was under acceleration, not in the braking area. There are so many things that they could come up with, but the drivers have an agreement, sort of an agreement, obviously a verbal agreement, nothing that has been signed, that you should move only once during the protection of your line.
“So that for me was a Formula Ford thing. It shouldn’t have been done, to be honest.”
Kubica added he feels the rules are now not clear on blocking.
“Reading the regulations, I’m clear. Watching Malaysia, I’m not so clear,” said Kubica.
Felipe Massa kept Ferrari a-top of the timesheets in Valencia on the second day at the circuit.
The Brazilian, who is making a great comeback drive following his injury last season, was the only man to break into the 1.11s times.
He was followed by Kamui Kobayashi who proved the BMW Sauber Ferrari has some gusto if not the sponsors with another stellar effort, which was quicker than the McLaren of 2008 champion Lewis Hamilton who got his first taste of the new car today.
“It was a night and day difference and feeling compared to the first lap and the first test day in 2009,” Hamilton told reporters at the end of the day.
“I have a positive feeling. I’ve obviously kept a close eye on the development of the car and the results we got at the end of 2009 – so seeing this car evolve and having the input into it, I was very excited to get in the car today to see what parts we have improved.”
Robert Kubica did some long runs in the bumble-bee Renault, and scored 4th place ahead of Nico Rosberg who had the whole day to himself in the Mercedes.
Rubens Barrichello was 6th in the Williams on his second day with Nico Hulkenberg scheduled to take the wheel tomorrow.
Tomorrow is likely to be a very exciting day with 3 world champions at the wheel, Fernando Alonso, Michael Schumacher and Jenson Button all star.
Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. Massa Ferrari (B) 1:11.722 124 2. Kobayashi BMW Sauber-Ferrari (B) 1:12.056 96 3. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:12.256 108 4. Kubica Renault (B) 1:12.426 119 5. Rosberg Mercedes GP (B) 1:12.899 119 6. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:13.377 102 7. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:13.823 107
Felipe Massa eased Ferrari fans and technicians fears over the potential performance of the new F10 on day one of the Valencia test series by slotting the new car into first place on the time sheets.
Admitedly, it is the first test but Massa will be very pleased with his performance which was a few tenths of a second faster than his nearest rival.
That nearest rival was 38 year old Pedro De la Rosa, driving the new Sauber C29, and looking forward to his first season in Formula One since 2002. His time may have been inflated slightly due to his advanced testing knowledge after all of those seasons with McLaren, but nevertheless Peter Sauber will be happy with today’s performance.
Michael Schumacher came in 3rd, the German who has made his sensational comeback to Formula One with Mercedes Benz will be pleased with his times which were consistently quicker than team mate Nico Rosberg. The old master clearly hasn’t lost it, and said he was like a child with a new toy.
“In a way it is like 1991, honestly,” Schumacher told reporters after the test. “When I came into F1 I was shocked on the first lap and extremely excited on the second lap and further laps. And it is exactly the same today.
“I feel like a young boy that has a toy in his hands and enjoys himself.”
Paffett was 5th in the new McLaren, with Lewis Hamilton taking over the reigns from the former DTM champion tomorrow. Rubens Barrichello made 6th on his first Williams outing, and one breakdown.
The bottom two were Sebastien Buemi who showed pace in the new STR despite only a handful of laps, and Robert Kubica who was happy despite expressing some concerns over the narrower tyres and their effect on understeer.
Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. Massa Ferrari (B) 1:12.574 102 2. de la Rosa BMW Sauber-Ferrari (B) 1:12.784 74 3. M.Schumacher Mercedes GP (B) 1:12.947 40 4. Rosberg Mercedes GP (B) 1:13.543 39 5. Paffett McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:13.846 86 6. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:14.449 75 7. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:14.762 18 8. Kubica Renault (B) 1:15.000 69
Rubens Barrichello has visited the Williams F1 Team factory at Grove, Oxfordshire today to have a look around and to get to know some of the people who will help him fight for 2010 title better.
Barrichello took time out to see the factory and also walk the hallowed territory through the famous private museum. Both locations, I have visited (see: http://f1fanatics.wordpress.com/2009/07/23/my-day-at-the-williams-factory-thanks-to-philips/ ) and can vouch for their quality and brilliance.
“I am going to realise a dream, because ever since I saw F1 on TV for the first time, I have dreamed of driving for them,” Barrichello told O Globo the Brazilian TV channel this morning.
Rubens also revealed that he had contract talks with McLaren, and that he only had a contract for the first 4 races of the season with Brawn in 2009, with the rest of his contract being based on performances.
Meanwhile new team mate Nico Hulkenberg says he wants to match Rubens’ pace, and hopefully beat the veteran challenger on a few occassions.
The German GP2 Champion also pointed out he would be stupid to ignore the advice of a driver with so much experience.
“I hope that I’ll be on his pace right from the beginning and that I can match his speed and results – and maybe even beat him at some point!” 22-year-old Nico told reporters on Wednesday. “I just want to have the best team-mate I can get; one who’s quick, experienced and a good driver – and that’s what I see in him.”
Rubens Barrichello and Nico Hulkenberg have been unveiled today as the new driver pairing for the Williams F1 Team for 2010.
Rubens Barrichello joins the team on the back of a strong season with Brawn GP, where he finished 3rd in the title standings fighting World Champion Jenson Button hard for the title and helping Brawn to the constructors title victory.
Nico Hulkenberg has just won the GP2 series, and also has won championships in Formula 3, A1GP and Formula BMW Deutschland.
Team principal Frank Williams said: “Rubens needs no introduction. He is not only the most experienced driver in Formula 1, but a passionate and talented driver who fought hard for the drivers’ championship this year.
“Nico Hulkenberg won the GP2 Championship this season as a rookie and has previously won the F3 Euro Series, A1 GP and Formula BMW Germany.”
Nico Rosberg now looks set to move to Brawn, and Kazuki Nakajima looks increasingly more likely to have no drive for 2010.
Rubens Barrichello, Timo Glock and newly crowned World Champion Jenson Button will all be confirming their 2010 race seats within the next few weeks if paddock rumour at the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi is to be believed.
Barrichello looks to be heading out of Brawn GP and off to Williams, a move almost confirmed by Michael Schumacher’s manager Wili Weber earlier in the week. He will be partnering Nico Hulkenberg at the Grove based squad, which he described as one of the best teams in F1 a matter of days ago.
“In one week we will know more for sure,” the Brazilian said, clarifying that the plans of his Brawn team-mate Jenson Button will have no bearing on his own.
“At the moment there are more important things than the announcement of my contract for the coming year,” added Barrichello.
Timo Glock on the other hand has said he has no contract with Toyota for 2010, where Jarno Trulli, Kaumi Kobayashi and possibly Kimi Raikkonen are all fighting for seats at, with the rumour being that the German is heading to partner Robert Kubica at Renault.
“Nothing has been signed,” the German’s manager Hans Bernd Kamps insisted. “For 2010 it looks good and perhaps next week we will have something surprising to announce.”
Ross Brawn has heaped praise on his driver Rubens Barrichello after his victory in the European Grand Prix.
The 37 year old Brazilian has been there or thereabouts all season with racing, but today managed to secure his first win for 5 years.
Brawn, his boss, is in discussions with Barrichello about a contract extension for 2010 for the Brazilian.
“It’s just a sensational performance,” Brawn told the BBC. “We have had these races where Rubens was very good in qualifying and it hasn’t quite come together in the race, but today he was perfect.
“He pushed exactly where he needed to, and kept the gaps exactly what he wanted.
“And then when we got on the radio and said we had to push, then the little red lights came up. So it was just a fantastic performance.”
Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello have both declared that they are happy with the progress that Felipe Massa is making in his recovery from that horrific accident in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Schumacher spoke of Massa’s slow, but successful recovery in a press conference, haistly called in Geneva yesterday after Schumacher, 40, decided not to return to Formula One afterall. He had been conscripted back into Ferrari after Massa’s crash, but has been unable to get fit in time.
“At the time I gave him [Massa] my cockpit I was tired and I wanted him to take over. The good thing is to see that his recovery is going well, he’s very motivated – he’s working not very hard because he’s not allowed to – but it’s good to see his progress and I’m very happy about that.” Schumacher said
Rubens Barrichello of Brawn GP too has spoken of how Massa is recovering after seeing the Brazilian at home. On his official Twitter feed, Barrichello wrote two posts;
“I spend the afternoon with Felipe…he is fine and exactly the same person as before..thank God.”
“On Felipe’s come back we need to be patient…he has to be 100% before driving again,”
Reports from Ferrari say that Felipe Massa has undergone successful surgery on his injuries from the horror crash in this afternoon’s Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying session.
The Brazilian was hit by a piece of debris from Rubens Barrichello’s suspension which hit Massa on the helmet at his speed, knocking him unconcious. The Ferrari then smashed into the barriers.
He was airlifted to the AEK hospital in Budapest, where it was revealed his had a fractured skull amongst other injuries.
“After the accident during the qualifying session of the Grand Prix of Hungary, Felipe Massa was airlifted to the AEK hospital in Budapest,” the early Ferrari statement said. “Felipe was conscious at the arrival at the hospital and his general conditions remain stable.
“Following a complete medical examination it emerged that he had suffered a cut on his forehead, a bone damage of his skull and a brain concussion. These conditions need to be operated on after which he will remain under observation in intensive care.”
After surgery Ferrari said he was in a stable condition in intensive care, a statement backed up by Rubens Barrichello on his official Twitter page where he said Massa was comfortable, sleeping and had a clear brain scan. Barrichello also said Massa’s family were on the way to Hungary.
He will clearly not race in tomorrow’s GP, and is unlikely to return at Valencia in 3 weeks time, where speculation is rife over who will replace him.