While the next wave of young racing talent hopes for an invitation to join the exclusive F1 test in Abu Dhabi next month, the youngest member of the current grid has yet to confirm whether he will be on the grid next season.
Despite a string of improved results in recent races, Nico Hulkenberg has yet to have his contract picked up by the Williams team, and CEO Adam Parr could shed no further light on the situation when asked over the Japanese Grand Prix weekend. Despite admitting that the German is wanted by the Grove-based team, Parr insisted that he could not explain the delay in inking an extension to his deal, claiming that 'the cards were still up in the air'.
"I cannot go into that," he stressed, "We haven't announced it yet and I don't think this is the moment to do that.
Hulkenberg, meanwhile, insisted that he was not worrying about the delay, preferring instead to focus on his performance behind the wheel.
"At the moment, there is no news, but I am not concerned," he confirmed, "There is nothing more that I can do at the moment, except show my performance and recommend myself through doing this. The feedback is positive and, even after Singapore [where he was penalised after the race], the team was very happy. I am doing my job, having fun and enjoying racing. The car suits me well, I am very happy in the team. Everything else will come, and it is not really in my hands. I want to stay in this team and, generally, things do look well in that respect."
Other than the prize drive promised to new F2 champion Dean Stoneman, Williams has yet to reveal its hand with regard to the young drivers' test that is scheduled to follow the season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in November, but some of its rivals are already beginning to firm up their participants. Scuderia Toro Rosso has reserved a seat for Red Bull-backed British F3 champion Jean-Eric Vergne, while the Frenchman's predecessor, Daniel Ricciardo, will be at sister team Red Bull Racing. Jerome' d'Ambrosio, Luiz Razia and Ryo Haryanto could share seat time at Virgin, while recently confirmed Sergio Perez and Esteban Gutierrez should appear for Sauber.
"Vergne won this year's [British] F3 Championship and was also good at Silverstone when he raced in the Renault World Series," STR's Franz Tost confirmed, "He won the first race and, in the second, finished second, so I am very much looking forward to testing him in Abu Dhabi. However, next year, our driver line-up will be with Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi."
Force India, meanwhile, has revealed that it is not necessarily going to be present at the test, with the team still pondering its 2011 line-up. Reserve driver Paul di Resta has been linked to one of the two race seats, although neither Adrian Sutil or Tonio Liuzzi has been confirmed as leaving, while recent reports have also touted former Mercedes man Nick Heidfeld as a contender.
"We are not planning at this time to run the young driver programme," Force India's Robert Fernley commented, "We have no plans to test anybody else. We are comfortable with the drivers we have."