Stories suggesting that Bruno Senna could be replaced by Valtteri Bottas, either at the end of the 2012 season or more imminently, have been vociferously dismissed by Williams team shareholder Toto Wolff.
Speaking to Austria's SportWoche
, Wolff - who, coincidentally, manages Bottas' career - said there was no basis to rumours that Senna's seat was in danger, even though the Brazilian will hand his car over to his Finnish team-mate for Friday morning practice at 15 of this year's 20 races. Speculation has grown since F1 driver-turned-commentator Mika Salo revealed that, following an interview with Sir Frank Williams, he felt that the team was poised to pull the trigger on such a move 'this season'.
"That story is bullsh*t," Wolff, who holds a 15 per cent stake in Williams, insisted, "Right now we need to get behind Bruno and support him. Let's not mess up our strategy. We have a job to do, and we'll keep doing it."
Senna's cause was weakened in Barcelona when not only did team-mate Pastor Maldonado out-qualify him and put his FW34 on the front row, the Venezuelan went on to win the event despite heavy pressure form Ferrari's Fernando Alonso. Senna, meanwhile, was taken out of the race by Michael Schumacher early on. The Brazilian, however, remains unbowed.
"I'd like to say a big thank-you to all my fans and supporters for the messages," he wrote on his Twitter
feed after the Barcelona weekend, "It's learning and 1 bad weekend won't bring me down! Push!!"
Senna was seen a something of a surprise signing by Williams for 2012, having been selected ahead of both veteran Rubens Barrichello and Force India refugee Adrian Sutil. His only previous F1 experience came in an abortive season with HRT in 2010 and a handful of races with Lotus Renault towards the end of last season, which produced mixed results.
However, with two new Finnish sponsors being added to Williams' portfolio ahead of the Spanish race, and both having close links to Bottas, it's not exactly a long shot to suggest that Senna's place is in jeopardy for 2013, even if Wolff and the rest of the team will not confirm it.