Silverstone, Saturday: F1 veterans Williams have added a further complication to the tensions currently escalating in the sport this weekend, by announcing their intention to leave Formula One at the end of 2009 if their demands for a reform of the points system are not met.

Pointless: Nico Rosberg, practice session dominator
Pointless: Nico Rosberg, practice session dominator

The team, which won nine Constructors’ world championships between 1980 and 1997, wants the FIA to introduce a “points-for-practice” system to the world championship, in which the fastest cars in each of the free practice sessions for a Grand Prix weekend receive world championship points.

“The free practice sessions are very important for the season,” team boss Frank Williams told reporters. “It only makes sense that the top runners in each session – say, the top six or eight cars – receive world championship points on a par with those given for the actual races. We have written to the FIA about this and are prepared to withdraw from F1 and start our own series if our demands are not met.”

Critics have pointed to the fact that Williams driver Nico Rosberg has topped more free practice sessions this season than any other driver, accusing the team of using the “integrity of the sport” as a cover for furthering their own interests. The team principal denied this, saying: “This is just a divisive tactic from the lunatics at the FIA designed to deny us support. We are only interested in serving the interests of fans worldwide, and not in any way concerned with making it easier for us to win the championship.”

Williams, who were expelled from the Formula One Teams’ Association for committing to racing in F1 next season, now insist that their participation is not a given: “Any agreements we have signed with the FIA can easily be retracted,” Williams insisted. “Patrick Head is revving up our lawyers as we speak.”