Mercedes Benz motorsport chief Norbert Haug has played down talk that the team is looking at Nico Hulkenberg to take up the role of test and reserve driver for the 2011 F1 season.
Mercedes has been without a reserve driver since Nick Heidfeld returned to a race seat with Sauber towards the end of the 2010 season, while Hulkenberg now finds himself without a job after leaving Williams following his debut campaign.
The German's manager Willi Weber had been quoted as saying that a test role with a top team would be better for Hulkenberg than being 'first man with a backmarker', with a race seat with a competitive team seeming to be out of the question.
However, Haug denied that there had been any contract with Weber regarding a role for Hulkenberg within the Mercedes team and insisted that he would be better off racing than in a testing position – especially given the current ban on in-season testing.
"There is currently no contact," he told Auto Motor und Sport
. "[However] his car didn't drive itself to pole position in Brazil. A GP2 champion and someone on pole in Formula One must of course be very capable.
"If he wants to keep his career going in a straight line, he would be better off racing with a second or even third-rate team."