Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams says Jenson Button might be at the top of its targets for 2017 but is not content to wait on the British driver or McLaren to make a decision and hints at other options.
Button's McLaren contract expires at the end of the season and the team is still gauging whether to retain the former world champion or make room for its highly-rated youngster Stoffel Vandoorne.
Over the past few months Button has been linked to return to Williams for 2017
– the team he started his F1 career with in 2000 – while the team has also expressed a great deal of interest in the British driver.
It is believed McLaren may not make a decision on its 2017 driver line-up, and consequently Button's availability, until after the summer break and potentially into September.
Williams says the team will not be happy to wait on a decision and may explore other options in the interim.
"We will own our driver line-up decision, and I am not sat here waiting for [McLaren chairman] Ron Dennis to make his decision or for Jenson to make his decision," Williams told the Press Association
. "It is not about what other people are doing. I am not going to be waiting around because that is just not the right mentality for a team like ours to have.
"It would be a great story, but he has to make the right choice for him, and we have to make the right choice for the team.
"He started his career here, but more importantly Jenson is a great driver, and he has still got a lot of fight left in him. He is a great talent in the car, but also outside of the car and we need a driver like him. That is not to say our focus is purely on Jenson.
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"When I talk about the criteria that we are looking at, it is the talent in the cockpit, the intelligence to feed back to the engineers, and for us, as an independent team, the commercial factors are going to play a part in the decision-making process too. You can't have an unknown driver in your car. It is just not going to work."
A potential option as an alternative to taking Button or retaining its current driver line-up is Force India's Sergio Perez who has said he isn't confirmed at the Silverstone-based squad for next year and is looking at all options.
"Sergio has done a great job this year, he is an intelligent driver, and of course he is going to be someone we are looking at,” Williams said. “I have only met him briefly on the odd occasion. He is very charming. He is very eloquent, so commercially he would be strong for any team. Of course he is going to be someone you'd consider if he is available."
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