Williams weighing up F1 exit as British team's profits plunge

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Williams' George Russell, pictured in action during preseason testing in Spain in February, faces an uncertain future after the British team confirmed it is considering leaving F1.

Williams is considering selling its struggling Formula 1 team in the wake of a strategic review.

"The board of Williams Grand Prix Holdings (WGPH) is undertaking a review of all the various strategic options available to the company," it said in a media release.

The British company's Formula 1 revenue dropped to 95.4 million pounds ($117.6 million) in 2019, down from 130.7 million pounds the previous year.

"Options being considered include, but are not limited to, raising new capital for the business, a divestment of a minority stake in WGPH or a divestment of a majority stake in WGPH including a potential sale of the whole company," said the statement.

Williams has won nine constructors' titles and seven drivers' championships-but the team has not won a race since 2012 and its last championship came more than 20 years ago, helmed by Canadian legend Jacques Villeneuve in 1997.

After placing 10th overall in 2018, Williams finished dead last in 2019 with just one point, scored by now-departed Polish driver Robert Kubica.

The team also announced it has terminated its relationship with title partner ROKiT and major sponsor ROK Drinks, but remains financially stable and on track to resume racing when F1 starts its season in Austria in July.

"The WGPH board believes that the strategic review and formal sale process is the right and prudent thing to do in order to take time to consider a full range of options and put the Formula 1 team in the best possible position for the future," Williams said.

Starting next year, Formula 1 will impose a $145 million budget cap.

Meanwhile, Australia's Daniel Ricciardo has revealed that he had discussions with Ferrari about joining the Italian team before opting for McLaren last month.

Ferrari eventually chose McLaren's Carlos Sainz as a replacement for four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel alongside Charles Leclerc for 2021.

"There have been discussions already from a few years back. And that continued all the way through to now," Ricciardo, 30, told CNN Sports.

"I won't deny that. But obviously it's never really come to fruition. Everyone says it would be a good fit, obviously, with my name and all the background stuff but, yeah, I try not to get emotionally caught up in any kind of situation."

Ricciardo said Sainz, 25, is a good fit for Ferrari and described the Spaniard as "a bit of a hot property right now".

Sainz finished last season sixth overall, the highest-placed driver from outside the top three teams.

Ricciardo, who won seven races when he drove for Red Bull, only managed a fourth-place finish as his best result with Renault last year. As for who will replace him on the French team, one of the names in the mix is China's Zhou Guanyu.

Zhou is currently the leading member of the Renault Sport Academy, having previously been part of Ferrari's young driver program.

The 21-year-old Shanghai native impressed in his move up from F3 to F2 last year, notching five podium finishes and one pole position with UNI-Virtuosi en route to a seventh-place finish in the championship.

Zhou will be one of the favorites to fight for the F2 crown this season but needs only a top-four finish to gain the 'super license' points required to compete in F1.

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