Williams: Three cars would solve driver dilemma
26 August 2012
Williams' new executive director Toto Wolff has admitted that the team would happily embrace an increase in allowed entries in a bid to ease the decision it is facing over drivers for 2013.
While it is widely believed that Bruno Senna will be ditched in favour of reserve and test driver Valtteri Bottas, Wolff continues to insist that no decision has been taken regarding next year's line-up, and the Brazilian's recent upturn in fortunes - notably his seventh-place performance in the Hungarian Grand Prix that preceded F1's summer break - has given the team a bigger headache.
“I would rather have three cars next year,” Wolff was quoted as telling Brazil's TotalRace website, “Valtteri is a great talent and we want to keep him, but there is also an economic side."
With Senna and second-year driver Pastor Maldonado thought be contributing €10m and €30m to the team's coffers respectively, it is understandable that Wolff is keen to weigh up the financial aspect of replacing one or other, even though Bottas' involvement as third driver has brought Finnish backers on board during the course of 2012. Indeed, the boost provided by Maldonado's Venezuelan sponsors may be the only thing keeping him in the line-up, as he has again proven to be more than a little mercurial this season. His sublime victory from an assumed pole in Spain has not been followed by a single scoring finish, while high-profile accidents at various points during the weekends in Monaco, Canada and Valencia have now been followed by an embarrassing gaffe during a demo run in his native Caracas which damaged his car beyond the time available for repair.
On the other hand, meanwhile, Senna has begun to create a positive impression on Wolff, particularly given that he has been the one to give up his seat in FP1 so that Bottas can gain experience. Wolff has already distanced himself from talks between the Finn and the team, given that he is a known investor in Bottas' career, but admits that Senna has brought a lot to Williams this year.
“I am impressed with Bruno,” he said, “He is not only an intelligent and sensitive driver, he also learns quickly. Our concern is to support him in the best way possible, knowing that he has lacked some practice on the Fridays. He has had good moments and days when things have not worked but, in Hungary, everything worked very well and I hope it was the beginning of many good weekends from now on."
While Wolff concedes that Bottas has 'been doing free practice, but racing is something completely different', the Finn is clearly attuned to the need to keep his employer sweet, recently commenting that he has been impressed by the current car.
“I think that we were really unlucky in the results of the last races,” the 22-year old told Brazil's Globo Esporte, “We should have more points. The car has more pace than it has seemed, [and] we're definitively developing and understanding [it] much more since the beginning of the year. The direction has been right all of the time. Of course, the other teams have developed as well but, if we keep up the good work, even if all the others continue to develop, we can get some good points.”
Williams is currently seventh in the constructors' race, with Maldonado's Barcelona victory contributing 25 points to the tally - and the bulk of his personal 29-point haul. Senna, meanwhile, has closed the gap on his team-mate to just five points after posting his sixth scoring finish of the season - compared to Maldonado's two - at the Hungaroring.