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November 3, 2009

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Barrichello, Hulkenberg get Williams drive for next year

BRAZILIAN Rubens Barrichello will begin a new chapter in his record-breaking Formula One career next year as a Williams driver alongside German rookie Nico Hulkenberg.

"Rubens needs no introduction," team founder Frank Williams said in a statement yesterday announcing his all-new line-up for 2010.

"He is not only the most experienced driver in Formula One but a passionate and talented driver who fought hard for the drivers' championship this year.

"Nico Hulkenberg won the GP2 Championship this season as a rookie and has previously won the F3 Euroseries, Formula Masters, A1 GP and Formula BMW Germany."

Hulkenberg was also the team's test and reserve driver this season.

Williams thanked departing German driver Nico Rosberg, the highly-rated 24-year-old who is expected to take Barrichello's place alongside Jenson Button at Mercedes-powered champion Brawn GP, and Japan's Kazuki Nakajima.

Toyota-backed Nakajima, son of former racer Satoru, ended the season in Abu Dhabi on Sunday with the unfortunate distinction of completing all 17 races without scoring a point.

Rosberg, son of Finland's 1982 champion Keke, announced last week that he was leaving after four seasons with Williams.

Barrichello, who entered Formula One in 1993 before his close friend and compatriot Ayrton Senna died in his Williams at Imola in 1994, will be the first race-winner to drive for the team since Colombia's Juan Pablo Montoya and Germany's Ralf Schumacher in 2004.

Williams, which has not won anything since 2004, will be his sixth team after Jordan, Stewart, Ferrari, Honda and Brawn.

On Sunday, Nick Heidfeld was overcome by emotion as he drove the final laps of the Abu Dhabi race to close out BMW's time in F1.

The German carmaker has withdrawn from F1, putting the future of the remnants of the Swiss-based team in doubt. Heidfeld finished fifth to lift the team to a sixth-place finish in the constructors' championship, overtaking Williams.

"It is a pleasing end to our last season together," Heidfeld said. "It now becomes very emotional. During the last laps, I had to pull myself together in order to keep my concentration."

To thank him for seven years of service with the team, Peter Sauber will give Heidfeld one of the team's cars to keep as a memento. Heidfeld's teammate Robert Kubica of Poland has joined Renault.


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