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Williams keeping options open over 2017 line-up

08 Jul 2016

Williams are still evaluating options for their 2017 driver line-up and are in no rush to make a decision, according to deputy team principal Claire Williams.

The Grove-based team have retained the same pairing of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa for the last three seasons, but the latter’s contract ends this year.

Bottas had been linked with a seat alongside Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari - though Kimi Raikkonen is now confirmed to be staying with the Scuderia for a fourth straight season - while rumours persist that Jenson Button could return to the team next year, with the latter's future at McLaren still unclear.

Asked in Britain what the team intended to do for 2017, Williams said: “We are evaluating our options. We still feel it’s quite early in the year to be making our decision.

“We have some performance issues at the moment so we really need Valtteri and Felipe to be concentrating on their track performance rather than worrying about what’s happening in 2017.

“As you’d expect those conversations are going on behind closed doors and when we’re ready to make an announcement we will, but I don’t foresee that being the next few races.”

After finishing third in the championship for each of the last two seasons, Williams are currently fourth in the standings, a full 78 points behind Red Bull.

Williams however says the team are aware of their current deficiencies and are working hard to correct them. “We don’t want to be going backwards,” she said. “At the moment we seem to be having to look over our shoulders more than looking ahead to Red Bull and worrying about the Force Indias.

“That’s a problem and that’s a real concern for us and we need to address it. Fortunately, we’ve done quite a lot of analysis over the past few races to identify those areas of weakness and put them right.

“For us that work is going on behind closed doors. We have some upgrades coming to the next few races, we have a new front wing here, which we hope is going to deliver a bit more performance to us, but there are other areas, structural areas of weakness in the business that we’re addressing at the moment.

“I think it’s very clear to see that the car struggles in slow speed corners, the car isn’t competitive in the wet, and we’re currently struggling to understand our tyres,” she added.

Britain was one of Williams’ strongest races in 2015 from a performance point of view, with Massa and Bottas qualifying third and fourth and running one-two in the early stages of the race.