Formula 1 set for "exciting" silly season, Claire Williams believes

Formula 1 is set for an exciting silly season given the number of drivers out of contract at the end of 2016, says Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams

Formula 1 set for "exciting" silly season, Claire Williams believes

While there was very little movement for this season, around 75 per cent of the grid will be looking for new deals come the end of campaign.

The most high-profile seat potentially available is at Mercedes with Nico Rosberg's contract expiring at the end of the year. Team-mate Lewis Hamilton is tied in until the end of 2018.

All eyes will be on Ferrari again, namely Kimi Raikkonen's seat, after he was given a one-year-extension covering the 2016 season.

The likes of Valtteri Bottas, Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg were linked to that drive before Ferrari settled on another year for Raikkonen last August.

Other vacancies potentially exist at Red Bull, McLaren and Williams itself.

"A lot of drivers are out of contract in 2017," Williams told Autosport.

"It'll be a real case of musical chairs and that's really exciting.

"It is not just exciting for teams but exciting for fans to see drivers move around as we've had quite a lot of stability for a while now."

A driver move takes on even more significance with the 2017 regulations set for an overhaul.

Williams says a decision on her line-up, with Bottas and Felipe Massa and out of contract at the end of the year, will not be made at least the summer.

"We've not got to Melbourne yet and all I care about is seeing Valtteri and Felipe doing a good job," she said.

"Looking to next year, I wouldn't ever want to get things done early because things change.

"I won't even be thinking about drivers until at least the mid-point of the year."

LYNN NEEDS TO "KILL IT" IN GP2

One driver in contention for a race seat is Alex Lynn, with Williams telling Autosport last year that he "overdelivered" in his role as development driver.

Lynn has been retained in the role for this season and will dovetail his F1 duties with a second GP2 season with DAMS.

"His main focus this year is the GP2 championship," said Williams. "He needs to go out and kill that series and prove he deserves a seat in F1.

"With Williams, Alex will continue to do a lot of simulator work in the factory, which as everybody knows is important to in season car development."

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