Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has pressed Williams to be bold when picking its new driver. The Grove-based squad are searching for Felipe Massa's replacement, with Sergey Sirorkin and Robert Kubica believed to be the leading contenders.
Massa raced his last Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi last month, waving goodbye to 15 years in Formula 1. Williams tested both Sirotkin and Kubica at a post-season test, and later revealed that an announcement would not be made until January. Wolff has urged the team to bring in "the next superstar", and develop them into a top driver.
“If I were Williams today I would be bold and would put a George Russell or a Lando Norris in the car or [Charles] Leclerc," he told BBC Sport. "One of these really bright talented kids who have won championships in the past to develop the next superstar. But having said that there is a financial reality they live in and they have to find the right compromise."
Mercedes wanted to supply McLaren in 2018
Wolff also revealed to a separate source that Mercedes was interested in a deal supply engines to McLaren next year. McLaren ended its partnership with Honda at the end of the 2017 season, and will run with Renault units next year.
However, Wolff admitted that Mercedes seriously pondered entering a deal with the Woking squad: "We wanted to give McLaren an engine, the problem is that it dragged on for a long time and we just didn't have the structure in place and the capacity to supply them an engine for 2018," Wolff told ESPN. "It was simply too late."
With McLaren and Mercedes holding a 19-year partnership from 1995 to 2014, Wolff hasn't ruled out the possibility of a future reunion: "You must never rule out supplying anybody in the future and this is why McLaren or anyone else in the future could be a partner."
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing