The Gems of Germany: My Tips For 2010
No, not Michael Schumacher.
Assuming that Nick Heidfeld will eventually fill one of the remaining grid slots available for 2010, there will be an incredible seven German gems lining up in Bahrain.
More than a quarter of the whole grid, just one nationality.
But two of them stand out for me.
And neither of them is the man making the comeback in the Mercedes.
I will never deny Schumacher of his talents or achievements. I just believe that two of his countrymen will outperform him in 2010, relative to their respective machinery.
I, for one, have very high hopes for Williams debutant Nico Hulkenburg.
As a teenager, Hulkenburg was absolutely rampant in A1GP. He continued his meteoric rise by winning the GP2 title at his first attempt, emulating only Lewis Hamilton.
Now 22, this is Hulkenburg's time to show that he can cut it at the top level. And I see no reason as to why he should not.
He is moving to a fantastic and experienced team in Williams with the addition of the sport's most experienced head in the neighbouring garage. Rubens Barrichello's many trials and tribulations in F1 can only be used to Hulkenburg's advantage to nurture him as a driver.
Hulkenburg will almost certainly not win the title in 2010, and is also very unlikely to even win a race. But all he needs is a few stellar outings, drives that can put him on the map.
The debuts of Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen would be difficult to emulate, but if Hulkenburg can prove a match for Barrichello (and get the better of him on occasions) then he will be hanging around for a very long time.
The other star German is, without a shadow of a doubt, Sebastian Vettel.
This starlet, with the deceiving appearance of a scrawny teenager/young man (such as myself) knows how to drive. And fast.
Unruffled by pressure, unpredictable weather or lack of track time. For such a young driver, Vettel shows remarkable composure in the face of adversity, topped off by modesty in the paddock (as opposed to a certain Mr Hamilton).
He has achieved an unbelievable amount of success in his brief career. Barring a little bad luck and some flashes of inexperience, Jenson Button's championship crown could well have belonged to Vettel.
But if there is one thing almost set in stone right now, it is that Vettel will one day go one better than his 2009 exploits.
Time will tell whether Hulkenburg is of the same calibre as his already well-decorated compatriot. I have high hopes for both.
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