Williams F1 deputy team principal Claire Williams says she hopes to finalise its 2019 Formula 1 driver line-up before the end of the current season.
The Grove-based outfit recently signed Mercedes junior driver George Russell into a racing seat on a multi-year deal, but the second seat has been linked with a few names, including Esteban Ocon, current driver Sergey Sirotkin and test and reserve driver Robert Kubica.
The Williams F1 boss has also made it clear that, despite the financial obstacles the team has to navigate, accentuated by its position at the foot of the Constructors’ table, it hopes to recruit Russell’s team-mate based on talent, not money.
“We haven’t made that decision yet, we’re taking our time with it,” said Williams on its second 2019 driver.
“We’re not in any mad rush. We have a few drivers on the list; clearly I wouldn’t confirm who they are. But we are excited about that decision too, we have some exciting prospects that we are evaluating now.
“We’ve got a number of considerations to factor into that decision and we’ll make an announcement in due course; I’m hoping by the end of the season.
“We’ll have a good budget going into 2019, it will be on par with the one that we have raced with this year – but there are a lot of considerations when it comes to choosing the driver for the second seat – but predominantly the main one has to be on talent.”
Williams has also maintained that the signing of Russell was down to the Briton’s ability, as opposed to his relationship with Mercedes, which has backed his career for the last two years.
“George has obviously come up through the Mercedes young driver programme but that was not a factor in our decision-making,” said Williams.
“We purely saw a young talent coming up through the junior championships, as I think we all have. We’ve all recognised the talent that George has, and are probably all pretty excited about the talent that he has coming into this sport.
“So no, the Mercedes relationship wasn’t a factor. George has a multi-year arrangement with us moving forward and he will be a Williams driver during that period and will focus on being a Williams driver.
“There were no factors around financial considerations with Mercedes on making that decision. It was purely a decision made on the talent that George has.”