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Villeneuve and Williams

FRANK WILLIAMS has admitted that he is not going to waste time signing up his drivers for 1999, which will force Jacques Villeneuve to make up his mind very early in the season if he wants to stay with the team next season. Villeneuve has long been tipped as a possible driver for the new British American Racing operation but Williams says he thinks it is unlikely that Jacques will leave a proven winning team to join the new operation.

While Villeneuve may be keen to keep his options open for a few more months to see how the new team develops and to see if any other interesting offers emerge, Williams is in a strong position to demand a signature. He has an option on Heinz-Harald Frentzen for 1999 and if the German improves as he is expected to do this year, he could be on a par with Villeneuve. Williams has also been in contact with CART Champion Alessandro Zanardi, who will be free from his contract with Target Chip Ganassi Racing at the end of this year.

As a result we expect Williams to have finalized its driver line-up within a matter of weeks, although there is unlikely to be any announcement until the autumn.

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