Williams determined to 'own' 2017 driver decision

Williams is determined to 'own' the decision on its 2017 driver line-up, rather than sitting back and waiting to see who is available after Formula 1's annual 'silly season' shakes out.

Williams determined to 'own' 2017 driver decision
Valtteri Bottas, Williams
Felipe Massa, Williams FW38
Valtteri Bottas, Williams
Valtteri Bottas, Williams FW38
Felipe Massa, Williams
Felipe Massa, Williams
Valtteri Bottas, Williams
Valtteri Bottas, Williams F1 Team
Valtteri Bottas, Williams F1 Team
Alex Lynn, Williams Development Driver
Felipe Massa, Williams F1 Team
Valtteri Bottas, Williams F1 Team
Valtteri Bottas, Williams F1 Team

F1 is bracing itself for the potential big shake-up in the 2017 driver market, as contracts of a number of leading stars come to an end later this year.

As well as Williams duo Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas potentially being free, there could be a vacancy at Ferrari, with Kimi Raikkonen's contract ending, Jenson Button's deal with McLaren runs out plus Nico Rosberg has yet to re-sign to stay at Mercedes.

Williams could be in a good position to capitalise on the situation, with it being one of the most competitive teams that could have vacancies, and it is adamant that it is not going to sit back and let others dictate who is available.

Deputy team principal Claire Williams told Motorsport.com: "We want to own our driver line-up decision this year. Waiting around for dominoes to fall in other teams is not on our agenda.

"That is not how we want to play the 2017 line-up. We want to make our own decisions."

Names important

Williams is sure of one thing: that the team is only interested in big name drivers who can deliver the kind of top level results that the team now expects.

"That is what we set about as our target for our driver line-up when we made our transition a few years ago," added Williams.

"We wanted to make sure that we had drivers in the car who bought everything that we believe a driver needs to bring a team – and of course experience is one of those elements.

"So having a name in your car is something that works really well for you commercially. But having a name clearly means they have had a successful time in F1 because they have been in the sport a long time.

"But there are so many different elements to it and the decision-making process. It is a process that we are going through at the moment and evaluating."

Current drive praise

Although the situation is open for Williams and speculation has linked the team with Button, it is not impossible that it will retain both Massa and Bottas next season on the back of their continued strong results.

In particular, Williams thinks Massa remains at the top of his game despite his vast experience in the sport.

"We know not only his pedigree in the sport but how competent he is in a race car. We have always said that he is an integral part of our team and we are very happy with the performance that he has brought out in the car this year and brought out in the team as a whole – and the same for Valtteri as well.

"This is Felipe's third year and we want drivers that are going to continue to make progress and continue to meet the criteria that we expect of our drivers. That is a list that is more than 10 points long – so as long as he keeps doing that, then of course we are interested. He is a great talent and he is a great name in F1.

"But we have to wait and see. What we need at the moment is both drivers focusing on the 2016 campaign, and to make sure they maximise points potential in every race because it is such a tough fight out there this year – and we don't want to lose our third place to Red Bull or another team."

Bottas interest

When asked if she felt Bottas was a target for other teams, Williams said: "I am sure he is: I am sure both of our drivers are being looked at by lots of other teams.

"That is testament to the talent that we have. As long as can keep providing them with a competitive race car, then surely the Williams name is always going to be on the list of possible venues for them to be looking at."

Lynn chance

Williams also said that reserve driver Alex Lynn would have to be on the list of its candidates if he continued to shine in GP2.

"It was his rookie year in GP2 last year, and I think he had some challenges but he also proved that he does have talent.

"He has remained in our team this year as a development driver and we are continuing with him. Really Alex needs to prove to everybody that he has the talent to deserve a race seat in F1 – but his season has only just started so we will wait and see."

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