Even though Fernando Alonso has now officially announced his allegiance to Renault for the 2008 season, the driver market is still not complete with some teams yet to decide on their pilots. Force India are still mulling over their drivers trying to decide between Giancarlo Fisichella, Christian Klien, Franck Montagny and the plethora of test drivers they have on their books. Toyota are still to absolutely confirm Jarno Trulli for the seat alongside Timo Glock, and McLaren are hesitating while they choose from Heikki Kovalainen, Pedro De La Rosa or Gary Paffett. And of course, each team could still throw a spanner in the works and sign another young charger not yet mentioned.
Nico Hulkenberg Joins Williams
Williams have announced that German driver Nico Hulkenberg has been signed as the team’s test driver for 2008. The young driver, managed by Michael Schumacher’s manager Willi Weber, competed in the Formula Three Euro Series during 2007 and finished the season in third place. Nico was then awarded a test with the Oxfordshire team in Jerez and impressed with not only his lap times but also his feedback.
When I actually got out on track in the FW29, it fulfilled every expectation and more. So to have represented myself sufficiently well to have been appointed as the team’s official test driver is the most amazing news and for me, Christmas has come early. Nico Hulkenberg.
De La Rosa Hopeful For McLaren Seat…
With McLaren yet to announce Lewis Hamilton’s team mate for next year, anticipation is growing as to who will get the chance to drive for the Woking squad. With the issues surrounding the team looking to be drawing to a close, the team will be assessing their options while trying to avoid a similar personality clash that occurred last year between Hamilton and Alonso.
The team’s long standing test driver Pedro De La Rosa is hopeful of landing the seat after working with the Woking team for many years and stepping in when things go awry. While De La Rosa isn’t considered to be lightning quick, he did well when Juan Pablo Montoya abruptly left in 2006 and the Spaniards work ethic (ignoring his involvement in Stepneygate for the moment) is one of hard work, high standards and perfectionism.
Right now two people are up for the seat, and I guess we will soon know who the second driver will be, in less than a week.
Last year, with Fernando Alonso’s signing I was aware then it was very hard to race, because we would have been two Spanish drivers, but this year I have more chances. Pedro De La Rosa.
…But Surely Kovalainen Has It In The Bag
De La Rosa spoke of the options open to McLaren having been whittled down to just two, presumably himself and Renault refugee Heikki Kovalainen. And despite the Spaniard’s loyalty to the team over the years, the team must be favouring the young and fast Kovalainen at the moment. The Finnish driver started his 2007 campaign with difficulty, but as the season progressed Heikki settled down and improved greatly. By the season’s close in Brazil, Kovalainen had overtaken his experienced team mate Giancarlo Fisichella in the standings and looked good to be retained by the Enstone outfit. But with Fernando Alonso returning and Nelson Piquet Jr being allegedly promised a race seat for ’08, Kovalainen was out on his ear.
Only time will tell which way the Woking squad go, and Heikki has hinted that Toyota have also made him an offer, suggesting that the Japanese team would rather the Finn than their current driver Jarno Trulli.