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Hülkenberg: Williams in the mix with McLaren, Mercedes and Renault

Williams F1 2010 rookie Nico Hülkenberg contends that the former multiple world champions are on a level with the likes of McLaren-Mercedes, Mercedes Grand Prix and Renault as the Bahrain Grand Prix curtain-raiser nears
Nico Hülkenberg reckons Williams is in roughly the same ballpark as McLaren-Mercedes, Mercedes Grand Prix and Renault heading into the F1 2010 World Championship campaign – and not far away from the outright front-running pace.

Hülkenberg – rated by some as the next big thing in F1 – led the way on the second day of the final pre-season group test around Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya on Friday, the second time Williams has topped the timesheets in 2010, after the young German's ultra-experienced team-mate Rubens Barrichello had done likewise in the rain at Jerez a week earlier. The reigning GP2 Series Champion had lapped second-quickest to Red Bull Racing rival Mark Webber on his first day inside the cockpit at Montmeló.

Though initial fears had been expressed that the Cosworth-powered FW32 was not a match for its anticipated midfield competitors, Hülkenberg contends that the car could in actual fact be behind only the pace-setting challengers from Ferrari and Red Bull approaching the curtain-raising Bahrain Grand Prix at Sakhir in just under a fortnight's time.

“It's difficult,” the 22-year-old is quoted as having said by GPUpdate. “I don't think we're so far away; I think Ferrari and Red Bull are just a little bit faster everywhere, then there's a gap to teams like us plus McLaren, Mercedes and Renault – but it's so difficult to read it.

“We have a good baseline with this car and engine – there's good potential in it. We just need to understand how to get everything out of it.”

Since last triumphing in a grand prix at the end of 2004 – when Juan-Pablo Montoya emerged victorious in the Interlagos finale in Brazil – Williams has gone into something of a slump, failing to finish any higher than a distant fourth in the constructors' title standings and on two occasions falling as low as eighth. Whether the seeming return of an independent-dominated era in F1 will similarly usher in a competitive comeback for the multiple world championship-winning Grove-based outfit remains to be seen.



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andrew.

March 02, 2010 6:48 PM

I wouldn't have thought Williams would be constantly in the same league as McLaren and Mercedes. The Cosworth must be better than expected. Hope they do well but wins are mabye only possible if others drop out.



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