Reigning GP2 Series champion Nico Hulkenberg has yet to turn a wheel in anger in Formula One, but his manager is already predicting that he will be driving for one of the sport's powerhouses within three years.
Willi Weber, who guided the career of one Michael Schumacher to unequalled heights after joining Ferrari, has claimed that his latest charge will follow in his countryman's footsteps, despite having yet to make his debut with Williams, with whom he signed a race deal to partner Rubens Barrichello in 2010.
The 22-year old impressed in his only season in GP2, winning the title at the first attempt after graduating from the F3 Euroseries with ART Grand Prix, and graduated from a test and development role with Williams to partner veteran Barrichello in an all-new line-up this year. He will make his race debut in Bahrain in March, but has revealed that Weber was already touting his abilities to Ferrari in the wake of Felipe Massa's Hungarian GP accident.
“In the end, I was able to focus on GP2 and win the title - and now I enter F1 with the appropriate preparation. It's probably good that it did not work out,” Hulkenberg said at the time, and Weber has all but confirmed the path he intends the youngster to follow in future seasons.
“Within three years, Ferrari will have Nico,” the 'kingmaker' was quoted as telling Finland's Turun Sanomat
Hulkenberg is due to make his public debut as a Williams race driver at Valencia next week, but has already had a chance to sample the latest product from the Grove concern, completing a shakedown run at Silverstone yesterday [Thursday].
Team spokeswoman Claire Williams revealed on her Twitter page that the Cosworth-powered FW32 was fired up at 3am before being taken to Silverstone for a film shoot with Hulkenberg at the wheel, admitting that she hopes that the car - which succeeds last year's promising FW31 - is 'as fast as it is pretty'.