ABU DHABI // Williams-Cosworth have eased fears over their financial state after Adam Parr, the team's chief executive, announced the team had secured new sponsorship to replace the funding they will lose at the end of this year.
There had been speculation the British team would have to consider bringing a driver into the team who could provide significant sponsorship revenue. Pastor Maldonado, a Venezuelan driver who has the state-owned petroleum company of Venezuela as a backer, is scheduled to be tested by the team next week.
This was as a consequence of the team losing significant backing from the Royal Bank of Scotland and some smaller sponsors at the end of the year.
"We haven't made any decisions about our driver line-up for next year," Parr said last night. "What we have done is replaced all the sponsorship we have lost.
"I feel more positive about the future than I have for a long time. Financially, we are in great shape. We are positive about the future."
Parr did not name the new sponsors.
With Rubens Barrichello already confirmed at the team for next year, the question apparently is whether Nico Hulkenberg will remain with Williams for 2011. He took his first pole position in Brazil last weekend; it was the team's first in five years.
Parr said no decision on drivers would be made until after tomorrow's race.
"We have not made a decision about the future line-up because we need to see the whole season, and when we have, we will announce them," he said.
Of Hulkenberg, he said: "We have seen great progress in his consistency and his race pace. We are proud of what he has achieved this year."
In yesterday's free practice, Hulkenberg set the 12th-fastest time, with Barrichello three places back in 15th.
Patrick Head, the team's director of engineering, said it had not been an ideal day for the team.
"We have a few imbalances on set-up to attend to, but we will address these," he said.
He said Barrichello had an engine problem in the first practice session, "which resulted in a change for the afternoon, but it is not something which concerns us".
Barrichello was not quite as optimistic.
"We had a few set-up issues so the car didn't perform as well as we would have liked it to," he said. "We have a lot of work to do, but we will make it happen."