Williams has confirmed it will give Formula 1 tests to Robert Kubica and Paul di Resta in the near future as it evaluates both drivers for a 2018 race seat alongside Lance Stroll.
Williams currently fields 18-year-old rookie Stroll alongside Felipe Massa, who had planned to retire at the end of last season before returning after Valtteri Bottas’ sudden move up to Mercedes.
Massa has stressed he wants to remain in F1 with Williams next year, but an underwhelming 2017 campaign that has seen him score just one point more than his inexperienced teammate has led the team to consider alternative options.
A report from Motor Sport Magazine‘s Mark Hughes earlier this week claimed Williams would run Kubica and di Resta back-to-back in a 2014-spec Williams in Hungary, with the pair leading the chase for Massa’s seat in 2018.
Kubica has been working for a full-time F1 comeback throughout the year, having last raced in 2010 before suffering severe injuries to his right arm and hand in a rally accident.
Di Resta has worked with Williams in a reserve role for some time, and impressed after a late call-up in Hungary earlier this year when Felipe Massa fell ill after FP3.
Williams technical chief Paddy Lowe confirmed the plans to test Kubica and di Resta together on Friday in Japan, but stressed the team had a long list of drivers under consideration for next year.
“We will test those two drivers. We won’t give away any information around what we do within those tests, that’s a private matter for us and I would stress that that doesn’t mean that they’re the only drivers under consideration,” Lowe said.
“We’re considering quite a large range of which they are only two possibilities.”
With few seats left on the F1 grid in 2018, Williams is seen to offer drivers one of the best remaining options, giving the team the chance to take its time before making a decision.
“It seems like we’re one of the last chairs available for next year. Of course Felipe is very much in the frame, very very high on our list of possibilities, but we owe it to ourselves to take a look around and see what could be the best option for the team going forwards,” Lowe said.
“All options are under consideration, to be honest. You’ve probably seen a number of names that are floating around that we’re looking at but honestly the range is almost unlimited.
“We will consider all ideas. We’re not in a super hurry to do so and we’ll just make sure we land the best line-up we can.”