Williams announce Formula One replacement for Nico Hulkenberg

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The Independent Online

GP2 champion Pastor Maldonado will become the second Venezuelan to compete in Formula One after Williams announced the 25-year-old would replace Nico Hulkenberg for the 2011 season.

"I will be looking to get some good results in return for the support my country has given me to help get me to this position today," Maldonado said in a statement today.

Compatriot Johnny Cecotto started 18 races in 1983-84 and Maldonado will team up with Brazilian Rubens Barrichello in the Williams Cosworth FW33 to try and wrestle the title from German Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull when the season starts on March 13.

GP2 champion from 2009 Hulkenberg was ditched by the British team last month despite the German's promising debut season.

"I feel very privileged Williams have selected me as one of their race drivers," said Maldonado.

"It is a great way to end what has already been an amazing year for me," added the driver who claimed a record six successive victories on his way to GP2 glory this year as well as testing with Williams in Abu Dhabi.

"I can't wait to start working with everyone properly to be in the best possible shape going into next year."

Team boss Frank Williams said he was first struck by Maldonado's abilities during his debut GP2 season three years ago.

"Pastor first caught my eye in 2007 when he drove a masterful race (to win) at Monaco. Since then he has regularly reminded us of his unquestionable talent with some skilful wins particularly during this year's GP2 championship," said Williams.

"We are very much looking forward to developing his talent over the winter and a fruitful season with him next year."

Maldonado started his motorsport career in kart racing at the age of seven.

His first Formula One experience came in 2004 when he tested for the Minardi team in the off-season.