Williams has announced a return to Cosworth power for the 2006 Formula One season after its split with BMW — but the big question is which of five men will form the team’s driver pairing.
Williams and Cosworth are bullish that they will be competitive next year, when F1 changes its engine regulations to 2.4-litre V8s. The tie-up will revive memories of Williams’s first two World Drivers’ Championship wins, achieved with Cosworth V8 power by Alan Jones (1980) and Keke Rosberg (’82).
Now Williams awaits a hearing from the Contract Recognition Board over its bid to prise Jenson Button away from BAR. Of the team’s existing drivers, both Mark Webber and Nick Heidfeld have received overtures from BMW. Webber is believed to have an engine-related escape clause in his Williams contract, while Heidfeld will be free to join BMW if Williams does not take up its option on him by mid-September.
But if Williams does exercise its option on Heidfeld, the team will likely lose the Button case as it would already have two contracted race drivers.
Williams has Antonio Pizzonia (who finished an excellent seventh in the Italian GP) and GP2 star Nico Rosberg (son of Keke) signed up on testing deals for 2006. Either could be promoted to the race team.