Williams confirms Kubica/di Resta F1 test, adds more drivers in consideration
As we are heading to the business end of 2017 and looking ahead to the 2018 Formula 1 season, the only few competitive seats remaining for drivers is at Williams, Toro Rosso and Sauber.
While the latter two seems to be settling in, the one seat at Williams alongside Lance Stroll is a key opening for not only the young drivers, but also for one's who are looking to make a comeback into the sport.
With Felipe Massa making clear that he is ready for another season in F1, the Grove-based team, however, has revealed of a large pool of drivers they are looking at to finalise the line-up.
The two notable names confirmed, who will be evaluated in a private test in the coming few weeks are Paul di Resta and Robert Kubica - albeit in a 2014 machinery.
"[It is] correct, we will test those [di Resta & Kubica] two drivers [in the next few weeks]," confirmed Paddy Lowe. "We won't give any information around what we do within those tests, that's probably matter to us.
"It seems like we are 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 ourselves to take a look around and see what could be the best option for the team going forward, that will be a partner to Lance.
"We are seeing, in particularly, the races [for drivers] to perform consistently, so we need a driver to complement Lance on that side of the garage, but all options are under consideration.
"Honestly the range [of drivers we are looking at] is almost unlimited, we will consider all ideas, we are not in a super hurry to do so and we will just make sure we land the best line-up we can.
"I would stress that, [the planned test] doesn't mean they [di Resta & Kubica] are the only drivers under consideration. We are considering quite a large range of which they are only two possibilities," he explained.
When asked Lowe if experience is the biggest factor the team is looking at in a driver, the Englishman said it could be one of them, but not the ultimate decision maker.
"I think there are many attributes you could attach to many drivers and experience could be one of them, but we may weigh that against other things, so we are not fixed on any particular aspect."
A shock retirement of Nico Rosberg last season forced Williams to give up Valtteri Bottas to Mercedes and replace him with Massa to partner rookie Stroll for 2017.
The results, though, haven't come by this season for the team with the car not performing to the expected levels as they find themselves in fifth - battling with Renault, Toro Rosso and Haas.
With Massa not getting any younger, even though he has years of experience behind him, he is no more that quick driver he used to be. And so, Williams are looking out for options, but they are handicapped to find a driver of above 25-years to meet the requirements of Martini.
This has ruled out several promising drivers including Mercedes junior Pascal Wehrlein, who may not keep his seat at Sauber - which is in talks to take in the Ferrari juniors.
With Lowe talking of a larger pool of drivers beyond di Resta and Kubica, the current names could be of Marcus Ericsson and Jolyon Palmer - while it could see a long list of former drivers if we are to mention them.