Motor Racing: Drivers line up for Williams test: Search for Hill's new partner begins with trials at Jerez

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The Independent Online
CANDIDATES for the seat left vacant by the death of Ayrton Senna will be put on trial by Williams-Renault for four days, starting tomorrow, at the former Spanish Grand Prix circuit of Jerez.

Obvious and available candidates are the Italian Riccardo Patrese and Britain's Derek Warwick, while Erik Comas's name has been mentioned as appealing to the team's engine manufacturers, Renault. The defending champions have already made a dollars 10m ( pounds 6.7m) offer for Jordan- Hart's Rubens Barrichello and been linked with Lotus Mugen's Johnny Herbert, but both are under contract and said not to be open to offers.

Williams plan to name their new partner to Damon Hill on Wednesday or Thursday, before the Spanish Grand Prix, at Barcelona, on Sunday week. The vote could still go to the team's test driver, David Coulthard, if only as a stop-gap.

Magistrates leading a manslaughter inquiry into the deaths of Senna and Roland Ratzenberger, at Imola, have notified 17 people that they face investigation. Among those notified were three officials from the Sagis company, which runs the track, and officials from Senna's team, Williams, and Simtek, the team for which Ratzenberger raced. The warnings are mandatory once magistrates have decided to begin an inquiry and do not imply guilt.

The sport's governing body, the FIA, announced yesterday that they were open to suggestions of a compromise solution on safety measures, due for the Canadian Grand Prix on 12 June, and for the German Grand Prix, on 31 July.

In a statement from Paris, the FIA said that excepting the measures to be introduced for the Spanish Grand Prix, it was prepared to consider alternative proposals from teams for reducing performance or increasing safety, as long as the effects of their moves at least matched those of the FIA.