According to Frank Williams, the team feared that they would lose Nico Rosberg to rivals McLaren. Rosberg originally had a contract with Williams until 2008, but at the end of last season, he chose to extend his contract for another season. In doing so, Rosberg also made it clear that he hopes to stay with the team beyond 2009 if the team can build a quick enough car.
“I was a little surprised that he was happy to sign to stay,â€ Frank Williams explained. “I feared he would go to McLaren and I was a bit surprised he didn t. He could not have gone there this year he had a fixed contract but 2009 was going to be the worry.
“We had an option for 2009 but it was very tough terms based on the constructors championship. It was by no means guaranteed we would achieve it.â€
Frank Williams also confirmed that McLaren had approached the Williams F1 team about buying Rosberg out of his contract, but confirmed that the team were not looking to sell the youngster.
“It was never a thought we entertained,â€ Williams continued. “We had an offer from you know who, of majestic proportions, but it was never, ever discussed. Why would we give away crown jewels?! Why bother improving the car by one second if we then give away half a second with the driver?â€
Meanwhile Williams co-founder Patrick Head revealed that the team would have signed Lewis Hamilton in 2004 but they passed up the opportunity. Head explained that Hamilton and his father had visited the Williams factory in 2004 while Hamilton was still in the Formula Three Euroseries.
“They rang up and said can we come and see you? ,â€ Head began. “And they came in and said Ron Dennis had dropped us. We were with BMWat the time and I think Frank rang Mario Theissen and said look, this guy looks as if he could be pretty good and whatever, and he has come to us saying can we help him.
“And I think Mario said they weren t prepared t provide any support and we weren t in a position financially where we could finance his racing. So much to Frank s annoyance, he could have had Lewis in a Williams.â€