Update: a Williams spokesperson has categorically stated that there is “no truth whatsoever” to the story below.
Williams may consider permitting its F1 drivers to participate in Formula E in 2016-17, according to paddock gossip.
The company’s engineering services arm, called Williams Advanced Engineering, already supplies the race batteries used in all Formula E cars. The British firm will be playing a much bigger role in Formula E’s third season when it becomes the technical partner of new entrant Jaguar.
That has raised the tantalising prospect of Williams F1 seconding its drivers to Williams Advanced Engineering and permitting them to race with the Jaguar Formula E team, a rumour that is rife in the Formula E paddock this weekend.
According to one source, the feasibility of such a prospect is already being explored being closed doors, with Williams said to be keen to allow their drivers a little more leeway to race outside F1 and Jaguar determined, on their return to top flight motorsport, to maximise opportunities both to win and to create as much publicity as possible. Bringing in two contemporary sporting superstars from F1 could certainly help fulfil both ambitions.
In 2016, there are three schedule clashes with the remainder of Formula E’s second season and the F1 calendar. Under current Formula E regulations, teams are permitted to substitute each driver three times throughout the season. If similar schedules were drawn up for 2017, that would open up the prospect of Williams F1 drivers (presently Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa) driving an entire Formula E season and stepping out when there’s an F1 clash or, more likely, stepping in for up to three guest appearances during the third season.
The story remains simple conjecture at the moment with no comment being passed officially.