Motor racing-Vowles still chasing Newey, has driver trio on shortlist


FILE PHOTO: Formula One F1 - Miami Grand Prix - Miami International Autodrome, Miami, Florida, United States - May 4, 2024 Williams team principal James Vowles arrives ahead of the Sprint Race REUTERS/Brian Snyder

IMOLA, Italy (Reuters) - Williams boss James Vowles has not given up on luring star designer Adrian Newey to his team and also has three drivers in mind to partner Alex Albon next season and in 2026.

Williams confirmed Albon on a multi-year extension on Wednesday and Vowles told reporters at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix that American Logan Sargeant's fate was still to be decided.

"I'm looking at about three options for 2025/2026, simple as that," he said.

"When we are in a position where I can talk about it, which won't be long, we will do.

"We know we need to be performing at the highest level. Logan has control in his hands, making sure he is performing at that level. That's his ability to control. I haven't taken that away from him.

"But what's clear is we also need to be talking to others and we are."

Sargeant's performances have fallen well short of more experienced team mate Albon and there are plenty of other drivers out of contract and looking for a seat.

Former Williams driver Valtteri Bottas is currently with the Sauber team who will become Audi in 2026 and could be one of them.

Mercedes' Italian protege Kimi Antonelli is another strong candidate but is also under consideration by Mercedes as a possible replacement for seven times world champion Lewis Hamilton, who is moving to Ferrari.

Alpine's Esteban Ocon also has Mercedes connections and is out of contract. Vowles was previously strategy director at Mercedes, Williams' engine providers, and remains close to that team's boss Toto Wolff.

Newey is being courted by teams across the paddock, including Ferrari and Aston Martin, after announcing his departure from dominant Red Bull.

The 65-year-old Briton won multiple titles with Williams in the 1990s and, despite the team being a long way from their glory days, Vowles has made a clear pitch for his return.

"I respect him enormously. He has history at Williams. And I first and foremost wanted to make sure I had a conversation with him to say this is the place to be," he said.

"We paused any other further discussions until around about now, and I'll continue the conversations as well. He's not in a rush, particularly, which is a good thing.

"I think we have to be straightforward. I want to make sure we're talking to him, I want to make sure our name's in the hat. There are some big players out there doing a lot of big number movements..."

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis)

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