Williams have admitted it would be pointless for them to target a driver who had any aspirations about being World Champion in 2022.
If, as many pundits believe, George Russell is recalled by Mercedes to replace Valtteri Bottas for next season, Williams will need someone to step into the Briton’s shoes.
That would be quite a task too, for Russell has outperformed the potential of the Williams in qualifying numerous times, now starting to make a habit of reaching Q3, although in races he is still seeking a first point for the team.
There is upward progress though from Williams, especially from the depths to which they plummeted in the past few years, and the new regulations being brought in to the sport in 2022 offer them a big opportunity to push themselves back up the order.
However, it will not mean a World Championship challenge straight away, and Williams CEO and team principal Jost Capito says that must be a significant consideration when it comes to deciding who will comprise their driver line-up.
Along with Nicholas Latifi, who is Russell’s current team-mate, among those who have been linked are a pair of former Williams drivers, Valtteri Bottas and Nico Hulkenberg.
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“The main thing is, we want to have the best drivers that are available and interested to drive for Williams and interested in doing the job for Williams,” Capito told Formula 1.
“It’s not definitely the driver who wants to be World Champion next year – for us, he would be in the wrong team.
“We need drivers who are willing to support the team, to get the team back, to lead the team and to improve performance. At the moment, we can see the interest in drivers to get to Williams is increasing.
“I would say it’s because of the positive steps we’ve done recently. I think we are well funded and this is known, and we are getting the steps in the right direction. We are working hard to continue that and this makes Williams an interesting team for a driver to be there in the future.”
Although Capito would not want to disappoint any driver harbouring hopes of becoming next year’s World Champion, equally he is not striking any names off a lengthy list of candidates should Russell create a vacancy.
Asked specifically about Hulkenberg, the 62-year-old German said: “I think at the moment we do not exclude any driver who would be available next year and Nico is available for next year, so we’ve got quite a long list.”
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