Claire Williams expects the uncertainty regarding Valtteri Bottas’ potential move to Mercedes will end this week.
Following Nico Rosberg’s bombshell announcement to retire from F1, Bottas has emerged as the leading candidate to replace the German at Mercedes.
The Silver Arrows have been conducting discussions with Williams over buying out Bottas from his contract, but no formal announcement has been made so far.
However, Williams expects a more clearer picture to emerge over Bottas’ future, going as far as saying that an announcement will be made this week.
“It has been dragging on and I think everyone wants to know, probably more who is going to be Lewis’ team-mate next year, and of course whenever Nico made his announcement we knew the call was probably going to come from Toto,” Williams told Sky Sports News HQ.
“We are nearly there, we are at the tail end of it and hopefully we’ll be able to make an announcement this coming week.”
Williams insists that she doesn’t want to hold up Bottas from racing for Mercedes, but is keen on ensuring that his departure doesn’t have a negative impact on her own team.
“It is a great opportunity for Valtteri and he has given a lot to Williams,’’ she said. “We’ve always said if we can make this happen on terms that are positive for Williams then it is probably the right thing to do.
“No-one needs or wants a driver in your team that really wants to be somewhere else. It is not nice either to stop a driver who has such a great opportunity, particularly at this point of Valtteri’s career, but it has to work for Williams and that is what we’ve been working hard on over the past six weeks.
“It has to be right for Williams, whatever we do will always be the right decision for Williams no matter what other people’s opinions might be.”
Should Bottas join Mercedes, then Felipe Massa is most likely to be announced as his replacement at the Grove-based outfit. And Williams feels the Brazilian still has the same hunger for success, despite retiring from the sport at the end of the last year.
“I don’t think he necessarily wanted to leave the sport and he did say he wanted to continue racing. These guys have been racing since they were six years old and it is in their DNA, that is what they do,’’ she said.
“If Felipe was to come back I don’t believe there would be any lack of competitive spirit within him. We also wouldn’t bring a driver who we had any concerns over his ability to do the job for us.”
Williams also have a void to fill in its technical department following the departure of Pat Symonds. And Claire has made it clear that she is interested in hiring the services of Paddy Lowe, who himself left Mercedes at the same time as Symonds.
“Of course someone like Paddy now that he is available is going to be appealing to us. He has driven that team to three world championship titles in three consecutive years,’’ she said.
“Of course he would be someone who has at the top of his list, he would be a fantastic addition. He started his career at Williams and what team wouldn’t want someone like Paddy Lowe.”
by Rachit Thukral