Williams and his drivers

FRANK WILLIAMS appears to have given up the idea of hiring Michael Schumacher and would rather invest the money in research and development and create new stars, as he had done in recent years with Damon Hill and David Coulthard.

Frank, however, is thought to be considering whether or not to continue with Hill, and Coulthard's future may also be in doubt at Williams. Frank's partner, technical director Patrick Head will, however, be arguing strongly that stability is the most important aspect in any race team and insisting that Williams keep one of its current drivers. At the moment Williams has no option nor a contract with either of his drivers, and it is no surprise that they are both talking to other teams. Hill has been negotiating with Ferrari and Coulthard is believed to have an option to join McLaren.

Williams has an option on the services of Sauber's Heinz-Harald Frentzen which runs until the end of September, and he is also talking with Canadian Indycar star Jacques Villeneuve. These talks centered on Villeneuve doing a three-day test for Williams at Silverstone, but there are problems with a tobacco clash between Rothmans and Players, and the negotiations appear to have stalled.

Frank Williams refuses to comment on who he is talking to, but it is hard to imagine that he will be satisfied with a combination such as Coulthard/Frentzen or Frentzen/Villeneuve. He needs a top name, and as the relationship with Hill seems to be very strained at the moment, logic dictates that Frank's chief target has to be Jean Alesi. Alesi is reported to be on the verge of signing a deal with Renault and will then be placed at either Williams or Benetton, depending on what Schumacher does. If Michael goes to Ferrari, Jean would go to Benetton and become Renault's top man. If Michael stays at Benetton, Jean would join Williams, a good publicity move for Renault. There are, however, many other possible combinations being discussed and nothing will happen until Schumacher's future is definitely decided.

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