Nico Hülkenberg has the potential to be 'outstanding' in F1, Williams' engineering director Patrick Head has contended – with the recently-crowned GP2 Series Champion looking to be evermore a shoe-in for promotion to the top flight with the Grove-based outfit in 2010.
With Nico Rosberg
seemingly Brawn GP-bound at the behest of Mercedes-Benz – who had originally been making efforts to manoeuvre the highly-rated young German into a McLaren
cockpit next year, before the longstanding 'Silver Arrows' relationship began to deteriorate – and current team-mate Kazuki Nakajima
likely to be bade sayonara
come season's end along with engine-supplier Toyota, there will almost certainly be two available berths at Williams
F1 in 2010.
As the team's 2009 reserve driver – and a former F3 Euroseries and A1GP World Cup of Motorsport Champion – Hülkenberg has long been linked with one of those two seats, and whilst stopping short of confirming the 22-year-old's graduation to the highest level next year, Head did admit that his GP2 title-winning success has only served to strengthen the Emmerich am Rhein-born native's cause.
“The drivers who have won GP2 in their first year – Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton
– are all pretty outstanding,” the Englishman is quoted as having said by Motorsport.com
, “and I think Nico will be outstanding as well.”
The 64-year-old has in the past been outwardly critical of Hülkenberg's predilection to ditch his car either in the gravel trap or the barriers during his initial F1 testing phase, but with Rubens Barrichello
– the driver with the most grand prix starts under his belt in the sport's history – looking set for a counter-swap with Rosberg, Williams
could well boast the perfect blend of youth and experience in its 2010 line-up.
With funding an increasing issue for one of the last true remaining 'independent' operations in the paddock, Head added that tying Hülkenberg down to a long-term contract at this fledgling stage of his F1 career could pay dividends in the long-term.
“If Nico proves in the future that he is at that [top] level, I hope by that time we're able to still be running him,” he acknowledged.