Williams executive director Toto Wolff insists the team has not yet decided which two drivers it will pair together in 2013, with the option of retaining the current line-up “one of the possibilities”.
Incumbents Pastor Maldonado and Bruno Senna have both experienced mixed seasons, part explaining why the team sits only eighth in the constructors’ championship despite a big step forward in car performance, although the former has delivered the more eye-catching results with a win in Barcelona and a number of impressive Q3 laps.
Senna by comparison has consistently struggled to match Maldonado’s qualifying feats, yet has been the more consistent top-10 finisher, albeit in the more minor points position. The Brazilian’s nine points finishes in 18 races is as many as both Force India drivers and Romain Grosjean, and two more than the McLaren-bound Sergio Perez.
It is Senna, however, who is thought to be under direct threat from the team’s highly-regarded Friday practice driver Valtteri Bottas. Speaking to the new edition of the JA on F1 podcast, Wolff, when asked if he envisaged keeping the same two drivers for 2013, said: “It is one of the possibilities.
“I like Pastor a lot. He’s not only a great guy, he has tremendous speed and he just needs to get it right and I think the more experience he will get the better that it will be. He had some tough races and tough moments this year, being blamed for being a crash driver. So it makes him stronger and I believe in him.
“Equally Bruno has shown okay performances, good performances, scored points. But then we have Valtteri also who is a long-term prospective and who is judged as being the new kid on the block. So we are not yet there.”
Wolff, who has moved into a more front-line role at Williams this year following the departure of Adam Parr, also had some strong views on the consistently controversial topic that dogs F1 for the season after next, the 2014 turbo engine regulations.
Bernie Ecclestone recently cast doubt on whether the new engine format would ultimately see the light of day but Wolff admits that although he generally feels F1 should never have even started down that road in the first place, the journey is now irreversible – particularly as the team’s own engine supplier, Renault, recommitted to the sport on that premise.
“My own personal view is that it should have never happened,” he explained.
“It was agreed to make a new engine without having properly analysed how much that engine would cost in terms of development and in terms of research and running it later on. The engine manufacturers have started developing their business. All of them are pretty much on the way. They have spent millions and millions to develop it, some of the manufacturers don’t have now even the benches anymore for the old engines.
“Renault made it conditional in staying in the sport that a new engine is in there, so my honest opinion is it’s quite late to change that decision and I support our engine manufacturer’s position which is in favour of the new engine.”
You can listen to the full wide-ranging interview with Toto Wolff, along with revealing chats with both current Williams drivers and FIA president Jean Todt, in the November edition of the JA on F1 podcast, which is available to download now from iTunes or directly via this link.