YEONGAM, South Korea, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Williams will take commercial considerations into account before deciding their 2011 driver line up, according to the Formula One team’s co-owner Patrick Head.
The former champions’ current drivers are experienced Brazilian Rubens Barrichello, 38, and German rookie Nico Hulkenberg.
The team, who are losing major sponsor Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) at the end of the year, have been linked to Venezuela’s newly-crowned GP2 champion Pastor Maldonado in recent media speculation.
While neither Barrichello nor Hulkenberg bring funding to the team, Maldonado is backed by his country’s state-owned oil company PDVSA.
Asked at the Korean Grand Prix about reports in Caracas suggesting the Venezuelan was close to a deal if not already signed up, Head referred reporters to Williams chairman Adam Parr, who is not in South Korea.
Asked how much the decision would be based on talent and how much on commercial considerations, he said: ”Those are things which we will weigh up.
“It’s terrible to hide behind a board but these things will be debated and are being debated in the Williams board,” he added.
“And at the moment we are not in a position where we are making any final decisions. I know it sounds very superior to say so, but when we are ready we will be saying what we are doing.”
Head, who will have a say in the driver selection, said Hulkenberg had done sufficient already to justify his place in Formula One.
Barrichello, winner of 11 races in a career of record longevity, has scored more than double the German’s 17 points and is considered sure to stay given his expertise and technical feedback.
Hulkenberg, managed by Michael Schumacher’s former commercial mentor Willi Weber, told reporters this week that he would not pay to keep his place.
“I don’t want to be a driver who gets a seat because of money. I never wanted to, it’s not my intention,” said the 23-year-old. “For me talent counts, I hope for the team too.” (Editing by John O‘Brien; To query or comment on this story email firstname.lastname@example.org)