Claire Williams has quashed suggestions the Williams Formula 1 team is up for sale.

Reports surfaced last week that Russian businessman Dmitry Mazepin, father of Formula 2 driver Nikita, was considering investing in the former world champion squad.

But speaking at this weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix, deputy team principal Williams rejected the speculation and denied that talks have taken place with Mazepin.

Asked about the rumour, Williams responded: “I saw those stories, I paid little attention to them.

“I haven’t met Mr Mazepin to talk about that. We had a brief conversation in the mid-part of last year, but subsequent to that there have been no conversations.

“I’d just like to be really categorical about it: Williams is not for sale. I have no intention of putting Williams up for sale. I don’t see why we would.”

Williams’ lost long-term title sponsor Martini after its deal came to an end last year, while it is no longer receiving backing from Canadian businessman Lawrence Stroll - after he and the team’s former driver Lance moved to Racing Point - or from Sergey Sirotkin’s backers SMP.

The blow was softened somewhat by landing a new title sponsorship deal with telecommunications company Rokit, as well as receiving financial support from Robert Kubica’s Polish sponsors.

Adding to Williams’ off-track situation, the beleaguered British outfit is enduring a dismal start to the 2019 season following its struggles in 2018.

“I think certainly in times like this, that the team is going through at the moment, these rumours always come up,” Williams added.

“But with a business head on, when you’re team isn’t doing well selling at this juncture wouldn’t be the right time to do so.

“I think you would only investigate that opportunity if you are doing well. That’s the right time to sell. But Williams is in this sport and has been for more than four decades and we’ve never wanted to sell.

“This is what we do; we don’t have anything else to do. So, it is not on the market. I don’t want to sell it to everybody. I want to go out and prove that we can do what we are in this sport to do, and that’s to get back on the podium and to win races again.

“That may take us a long time, but it took Frank more than 10 years to do it when he first started in this sport, and I’m sure we’ll have a lot more stuff thrown our way.

“But you don’t give up when times get tough. For me it’s a test of your character that you continue and to prove to everybody that you can do it.

“That’s certainly the belief everybody has at Williams - that we can do this and we’re not going to just give up because the moments have got a bit hard for us.”

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