Motor Racing: Williams reject dejected Brundle

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MARTIN BRUNDLE has been ruled out of the running for a drive with Williams-Renault in 1993. His exclusion could leave the way open for fellow Briton Damon Hill to partner Alain Prost.

Brundle, 33, released by Benetton-Ford, has had his most productive season in Formula One and was given a '99.9 per cent chance' of landing the prime job by Williams' managing director Frank Williams. He even had a contract in place. But Williams has now informed him he is no longer under consideration. A dejected Brundle said last night: 'I think it's over for me with Williams and I'm looking in other directions.'

Other members of the Williams organisation, notably the technical director Patrick Head, have favoured giving the seat to Hill, the team's test driver. He is familiar with the car's sophisticated systems, has apparently worked well alongside Prost in testing, and is capable of quick times. Williams admits, however, that it may be a gamble to go with a 32-year-old with only two grand prix appearances.

Other possible contenders include Mika Hakkinen and Johnny Herbert, the Lotus-Ford pair, and there has even been a rumour that Jean Alesi could be brought in from Ferrari, who in turn may seek to buy out Nigel Mansell's contract with the Newman-Haas Indycar team. The Americans have dismissed the suggestion as nonsense, and the Formula One world champion visited the team's headquarters earlier this week to meet personnel and have a seat fitting.

Brundle, meanwhile, may sign for Ligier, the French team. His dream of a world championship challenge has become the reality of mid-grid obscurity.