Martini, the alcohol brand, has announced that it will stop being Williams’ title sponsor at the end of the season.
It follows rumours the company wanted Williams to sign at least one older driver for 2018, such as Felipe Massa or Robert Kubica.
But Williams ultimately signed 22-year-old Sergey Sirotkin to be 19-year-old Lance Stroll’s teammate this year.
“We told Martini that we were looking at Sergey and they were very open to that possibility,” Williams said in Barcelona.
“The end of the contract has nothing to do with the age of our two race drivers,” she is quoted by Le Journal de Montreal.
“Martini and Williams had a successful cooperation and they achieved their goals. They’re not only leaving Williams but also formula one as a whole,” Williams explained.
Martini’s departure will nonetheless leave a hole in Williams’ budget for 2019.
Claire Williams played down the impact.
“As an independent team, we have an active commercial department that is always looking for new partners,” she said.
“I don’t want to say now that we’re looking for a title sponsor, because we’re looking for a budget to go racing. Let’s see how the situation develops this year.”