Will Hulkenberg propel Williams up the grid?

While Bruno Senna will be regarded by many as the most high-profile of the five rookies making their F1 debut this weekend, it is Williams’ Nico Hülkenberg who has probably the greatest weight of expectation on his young shoulders.

Hülkenberg’s rise to F1 has garnered as much acclaim (albeit, forged much more on his own path) than that of Lewis Hamilton.

As a pimply teenager, he trounced all comers in the 2006-7 A1GP championship for Team Germany to lead the nation to its maiden title. In 2007, he took the Masters of F3 title, won the F3 Euroseries championship a year later and stormed to the GP2 title by the biggest-ever margin last year.

With long-time backing from Michael Schumacher’s manager, Willi Weber, Hülkenberg looks set for big things in 2010.

But how is he going to prove himself on the biggest stage of them all, especially with the Williams FW32 not considered to be a front-running contender just yet?

In an interview posted on his official website, Nico said: “Being a Formula 1 driver is a great feeling and I’m very excited about going to Bahrain. I learnt a lot as the team’s test driver, which has prepared me well for the season ahead.

"Winter testing was good for us. Having completed a good amount of mileage, we are well placed going into the season. The Cosworth engine is also looking strong, it’s powerful and reliable. We have potential but we have to wait to see where the competition is. It’s going to be an exciting season and I can’t wait to start it!

“I want to improve over the season and want to take out the maximum from each race, as well as fulfilling the expectations of the team. I don’t know which standing I would be satisfied with. However, any driver wants to be on P1."

And given your pedigree, Nico, we’d be foolish to bet against that!

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.