Williams is yet to open talks with Nico Hulkenberg over a race seat for the 2020 Formula 1 season, according to deputy team boss Claire Williams.

Hulkenberg is currently a free agent for the 2020 season after losing his Renault seat to Esteban Ocon, while Williams has one vacant seat after Robert Kubica confirmed on Thursday he would be leaving at the end of the season.

Hulkenberg is short on options if he wishes to remain on the F1 grid next year, with Alfa Romeo and Williams appearing to be his only two realistic landing spots.

Speaking on Friday, Claire Williams said the team’s plans remained “under consideration” as it looks for a new teammate for George Russell.

“We have got some candidates on our list who we are considering at the moment, that we are talking to,” Williams said

“We are taking our time to deliberate on that, to make sure we make the right decision for 2020.”

Asked about the challenge of signing a driver with financial backing versus one lacking sponsors, Williams acknowledged the difficulty before saying talks with Hulkenberg were yet to take place.

“It’s not an easy predicament we are in at the moment when it comes to that second seat and our financial considerations, but that is not to say we couldn’t potentially make a driver work if it doesn’t come with backing,” Williams said.

“We do have options open to us. We haven’t had any conversations with Nico Hulkenberg.”

However, Williams did recognise that “someone of Nico’s competence or capability is always going to appeal to a team”.

Hulkenberg made his F1 debut with Williams in 2010, scoring a famous pole position at that year’s Brazilian Grand Prix before leaving at the end of the season.

The German driver remained coy when asked on Thursday about the possibility of returning to Williams for 2020, stressing he would not take any seat for the sake of staying on the grid.

“As much as I want to continue in Formula 1, for me it needs to make sense. It needs to be sensible, it needs to be the right deal,” Hulkenberg said.

“I’m not desperate to stay in Formula 1 and just take anything. I’m not disregarding or disrespecting Williams, I mean in general, globally, even with Haas now. That for me, that is the most important thing for me.”

Formula 2 driver Nicholas Latifi remains the favourite to land the free seat for 2020, with Williams seeing similarities between the Canadian and the incumbent Russell.

“Nicholas has quite a similar personality to George, he rolls up his sleeves and gets on with the job that we ask him to do,” Williams said.

“That’s been everything we want to see from him as a reserve driver, taking on the FP1 running for us at some of the races and then the test sessions as well.

“He’s very personable, very likeable, outside of the car, he gets on with everyone in the team. Obviously there is the advantage he does know the team now.

“But he’s still got some remaining rounds in F2 and he has still got to get the Super Licence points for us to consider him for 2020.”

 

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