Williams is edging towards a closer technical partnership with Mercedes by using its gearbox in 2019.
After back-to-back third-place finishes in the constructors’ championship, Williams slipped to fifth for the past two seasons, and a poor car this year currently has it stranded at the bottom of the standings. Under chief technical officer Paddy Lowe – who used to work for Mercedes – the team has been making a number of personnel changes, and is poised to also purchase more hardware from its power unit supplier.
“Well, we are in discussions about doing that,” Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said. “They are an engine client of ours. It’s not a huge thing to increase that to a gearbox. Nothing is signed, nothing is done and we need to decide in the next few weeks because the chassis design is at an advanced stage for Williams, so we’ll see how that pans out.”
Such a move could increase the chances of Mercedes reserve driver George Russell driving for Williams in 2019, with a seat potentially opening up if Lance Stroll moves to Force India.
While Lowe says Williams is open to closer ties with Mercedes, he insists the team does not want to move too far away from its current set-up as a constructor.
“Formula 1 is changing,” Lowe told Formula 1.com. “Force India were one of the early ones to abandon the full constructor definition that teams had historically followed of essentially making everything except an engine.
“We’ve seen more and more teams adopting gearboxes from elsewhere. Now we have the Haas model where you adopt everything that is not listed.
“We have our eyes open to all of those possibilities because we owe it to ourselves. You’ve got to move with the times and do the best thing for the performance of the team.
“But having said that, Williams has a strong culture of being an independent, being a constructor, not only in the parts we are responsible for but also we are making them in-house.
“We have a capacity of manufacturing on our own site and we’ve prided ourselves on that. I don’t see us moving drastically away from that. But we remain open.”