Williams’ line-up considerations no Stroll

Bayden Westerweller Roar Guru

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    Lance has Strolled his way in to Formula One contention, thanks in part to his father's wallet. (David Davies/PA via AP)

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    Williams doesn’t have much to display from their 2017 campaign. They face a difficult decision regarding the roster for next season if they’re to inject some liveliness into its flagging efforts.

    Complicating the equation is its reliance on Lawrence Stroll’s financial contribution, with the billionaire enjoying a considerable say in who will ultimately sit alongside his developing son, Lance.

    Already snookered by Stroll Junior’s youth, in compliance with title sponsor Martini’s ‘over 25′ mandate for one half of the garage, this leaves the Grove outfit with a select field of candidates.

    It might appear harsh to dismiss Felipe Massa, who saved them a headache after reneging on his retirement once Valtteri Bottas was hired by Mercedes, yet the Brazilian hasn’t set the world on fire and is displaying signs of being overshadowed by his Canadian teammate.

    Indeed, the 36-year-old sits just three points clear of Stroll, who following a slow start, has registered the team’s most memorable moments this season on account of his third at Azerbaijan and front row start at Italy.

    Carlos Sainz’s impending arrival at Renault ended the prospects of Robert Kubica making a fairytale return with the Enstone outfit, thus the Pole has now been tied with Massa’s seat, though it is understandable that Williams has reservations concerning his potential.

    There’s an element of the unknown with Kubica’s physical limitations, yet following his successful test at Hungary with Renault, is arguably of lesser consideration than his seven-year absence from the grid, which in competitive trim is an entirely different beast from testing.

    Historically frugal and conservative, punting on Kubica would attract a legion of goodwill and if the soon to be 33-year old were to deliver, it would appear to represent a masterstroke. It goes without saying that he would be a perfect role model for Stroll on the racecraft front.

    For all the confidence in his abilities, and perhaps a small element fearing embarrassment for Stroll, it remains foreseeable that Williams will maintain appearances and opt for another solid if unspectacular alternative. To this end, any such ‘search’ discounting Kubica stands to defeat its purpose.

    Lance Stroll sits on car

    (David Davies/PA via AP)

    Paul di Resta did all that could be expected on his late elevation to the seat at Hungary, and with the benefit of at least a practice session, the Scot would likely have fared even better. At 31, he carries greater marketing potential than Massa for Martini, yet his dour personality and own four-year stint without a drive hardly inspires confidence.

    Jolyon Palmer had until recently appeared the driver most out of place on the grid, yet his gradual inroads in the second half of the season, despite the unsurprising news that he isn’t being retained by Renault, and upbeat response, suggest he has something to offer. As a pure Briton, he fits Williams’ commercial considerations, yet doesn’t strike the mentor role desired by the Stroll camp.

    What it boils down to for Williams is whether they care to be bold and take a leap of faith, helping to realise a feel good story, or play it safer with individuals who can be labelled inoffensive. It can be argued that if they pass on Kubica, the best course would be to retain Massa with the driver market set to be volatile over the coming twelve months with many drivers coming out of contract.

    Until an engine manufacturer willing to enter a works collaboration surfaces, the eponymous outfit continues to find itself beholden to those holding the chequebook. In this instance, the parameters dictate an experienced candidate who probably can’t shine too brightly for another’s good, which could be served by Massa or Kubica, though we’ll never know unless that button is pushed.