Inaugural champ lands plum F1 drive

Nico Rosberg has today been unveiled as a WilliamsF1 Team driver for the 2006 season. Nico, the inaugural GP2 series champion, is the first GP2 series driver to be confirmed for a 2006 Formula One race seat, as part of a "long term contract" with the Williams F1 team.

Nico's relationship with the WilliamsF1 Team began in 2002 when, at just 17 years of age, he became the youngest driver in history to drive a Formula One car. And with Nico's graduation to the GP2 series in 2005, the WilliamsF1 Team was quick to re-establish their link with the German, signing him up as a test driver. Nico has tested the team's Formula One car on a number of occasions in 2005 whilst also competing in the GP2 series and winning the inaugural title against a strong field of drivers and teams.

As our inaugural champion it is fitting that Nico should be the first GP2 series driver to be confirmed in a Formula One race seat for 2006. In his championship year Nico set a number of records including the most points scored by a driver in a weekend (19 from a possible 22), the most pole positions (four) and the most victories (five.) He stood on the podium 11 times, and was the only driver to score at every round. In Bahrain he became the only driver to take both wins in a weekend.

The GP2 series itself recommences its winter testing program next week in Spain with a two day test at the Circuito de Jerez on November 9-10. Once again all 12 teams will be in attendance, as they search for the driver they hope will succeed Nico as 2006 GP2 series champion.

Nico Rosberg WilliamsF1 Team:
"This announcement is the validation after ten years of racing that I have chosen the right direction. Winning the GP2 series championship this season, especially given the competition, was a satisfying achievement. I have had a good year, and the GP2 series really is a great championship with a good future, I think, because the cars are great, the set up is good and gives you just enough to do. There are very good teams, very good drivers, and displays very good competition. It's a great training ground for F1. Today's announcement is the crowning glory of a great year. I am really looking forward to starting work at the end of this month and learning as much from the WilliamsF1 Team as I possibly can. You always have to prove yourself, wherever you are, especially in Formula One. Even Michael Schumacher sees that. After being seven times world champion they still try and pull him down. It's a hard world but I am ready for it."

Bruno Michel GP2 series organiser:
"Today's announcement fills me with a great deal of pride. To see our first champion confirmed in a Formula One race seat in a top team for the 2006 season, as part of a long term contract for the future, is evidence that our series works. I look forward to watching Nicojoin the elite of the world's drivers in Formula One next year, and hope to see him continue the fine form he has shown us he is capable of in the GP2 series. With some of his rivals also looking at drives in Formula One in 2006, we may yet have a number of GP2 series graduates making the step up next season. It has always been the aim of this series to act as a springboard to Formula One for our drivers, I am positive that today's news is the first in a number of announcements to come."