Williams Formula 1 team stays silent on Bottas-to-Mercedes talks

Williams is remaining silent regarding talk Formula 1 rival Mercedes is interested in signing Valtteri Bottas to replace Nico Rosberg in 2017

Williams Formula 1 team stays silent on Bottas-to-Mercedes talks

World champion Rosberg's shock retirement has left Mercedes with little time and a small pool of drivers - especially those not under contract - to choose from to find a new F1 team-mate for Lewis Hamilton.

GARY ANDERSON: Bottas and Button can solve Mercedes' problem

A source suggests Mercedes contacted Williams to discuss the possibility of releasing Bottas, who has Mercedes chief Toto Wolff as part of his management team.

As part of the package, Williams is believed to have been offered a reduction in the cost of its 2017 engine supply - around £10m - as well as the opportunity to run its reserve Pascal Wehrlein.

That offer was rejected but it is believed a second proposal is being formulated.

When contacted by Autosport, a Williams spokesperson said: "We announced our 2017 drivers as Valtteri and Lance [Stroll] so have no comment on anything else."

The team is keen to hold on to Bottas and his experience next year, given his 18-year-old team-mate Stroll will be making his F1 debut.

Partnering him with Wehrlein would mean its drivers only have one year's F1 experience between them and risks it dropping further down the constructors' championship, having slipped from third to fifth in 2016.

Its primary sponsor Martini is also known to have concerns about its two drivers being under 22 years of age.

Wehrlein has said he is ready to step up to replace Rosberg, following a season with Manor, but it is believed Mercedes is uncertain if he yet has the necessary experience.

Another Mercedes junior, Esteban Ocon recently signed a deal with Force India, which is keen to keep hold of the Frenchman for next season.

Carlos Sainz Jr has also emerged as a contender for the vacant Mercedes seat.

The Spaniard has a contract with Red Bull to continue with Toro Rosso for a third season in 2017.

However, Autosport understands there is the possibility of him being released from that seat, should an offer come from Mercedes.

WILLIAMS ALSO QUIET ON LOWE

Williams has also remained tight-lipped on suggestions it will sign Mercedes technical chief Paddy Lowe.

Out of contract with Mercedes at the end of this month, Lowe started his grand prix career with Williams and was part of the team behind its dominance in the early 1990s, then spent two decades with McLaren.

Williams is understood to be discussing making tweaks to its technical team, but when contacted for comment on Lowe it said: "This is speculation so we have no comment."

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