Williams has taken steps to quash concerns that it is one of the teams most in danger of folding before the start of the 2009 Formula 1 World Championship campaign - by insisting that it is 'unequivocally committed' to the sport 'for at least another 30 years'.

Following Honda's shock announcement last week that it is to quit the top flight with immediate effect, fears have been expressed within the paddock that Williams' future could also be under threat. Over the past two years, the Grove-based concern has recorded combined losses of some $88 million, and is the only team on the current grid without the backing of either a major car manufacturer or billionaire behind it.

Despite not having won a race since 2004, however, the Toyota-powered outfit has urged that it is in a better financial state than it has been for a couple of years, and is close to securing a full budget for 2009.

"We are unequivocally committed to F1," a team spokesman told BBC Sport. "Unlike many of our competitors who are owned by car makers, for us the consideration to stay involved is superfluous, as we only exist to race.

"We have 90 per cent of our operating budget in place for next season. The balance of our funding for next season is under active discussion with existing sponsors, and as ever, despite difficult market conditions, we are in dialogue with a number of new prospective sponsors.

"There is still scope for new business as long as we continue to offer value for money and can demonstrate that we can positively influence our sponsors' bottom line.

"Our budget is also being assisted by including a number of contracts written in [US] dollars and although the exchange rate is transient, our dollar receivables are making a positive contribution to our projected finances for next year.

"With all of these factors, there is every possibility that we will be better funded in 2009 than 2008. We have been involved in F1 for three decades, through conducive and adverse economic circumstances alike, and we have every intention of racing for at least another 30 years."

The multiple world championship-winning outfit's chief executive Adam Parr, though, did warn that another manufacturer is likely to join Honda on the F1 sidelines come the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne in March, as the global credit crunch continues to sink its teeth deeper into what is substantially the most expensive sport in the world.

"I expected one or two teams to pull out of F1, and I said they wouldn't necessarily be independent teams," Parr told international news agency Reuters, arguing that Honda's departure had been 'entirely predictable'. "We'll probably lose another team before 2009, and there's a good chance it will be a manufacturer.

"Honda didn't have to leave F1; it chose to. As long as we can rub together a few pennies and put together a half-decent budget, we're going racing.

"We believe our position is different to all the other teams. Every other team in F1 depends on one of its shareholders and can decide at any time to leave F1. We don't have a choice about being in F1; it's what we do."

Williams has also been linked with former driver Jenson Button - whose F1 career is on the line following Honda's withdrawal - despite the fact that both 2008 incumbents Nico Rosberg and Japanese Kazuki Nakajima have deals with the Oxfordshire squad for next season.

The British star made his debut in the uppermost echelon with Williams back in 2000, and attempted to return there five years later before the FIA Contract Recognition Board ruled that he had a binding contract with BAR-Honda for the 2005 campaign.


Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register to add your comment