Motor Racing: Williams undecided

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NIGEL MANSELL could sign a new contract with Williams-Renault this week. Britain's first world champion for 16 years revealed he is ready to commit himself to the team into 1993, writes Derick Allsop from Budapest.

Mansell secured his championship under a cloud of uncertainty about his future. James Hunt, Britain's last title-holder and now a BBC commentator, told his audience during yesterday's decisive Hungarian Grand Prix that Ayrton Senna had informed him he would drive for Williams for nothing.

A highly improbable scenario, perhaps, but a clear indication of his wishes. Alain Prost, like Senna three times a champion, is expected to come out of exile and take Riccardo Patrese's place at Williams, so that leaves one seat left - for Mansell or Senna.

The Formula One grapevine has suggested here that Mansell is in danger of pricing himself out of the market. A demand of dollars 23m ( pounds 12.23m) for next season has been mentioned. Whatever the truth of that, it seemed last night that Mansell was on the verge of a deal with Williams, even if it meant joining forces with Prost.

Mansell had a private talk with his boss, Frank Williams, before he left the circuit last night. The driver said: 'Now I am champion I would like the opportunity to defend my title and preferably with the same team. James Hunt is the ex-world champion. I am Britain's champion now. It's a pity he says certain things. He's said ridiculous things in the past, with TV companies competing against each other. Frank and I will be speaking over the next couple of days and I think we are pretty close to an agreement.' Told of Senna's alleged remark to Hunt, Williams quipped: 'Give me the phone, I'll ring him now. Seriously, though, the fact is I still have nothing to say on the driver line-up for next season. The situation is still under discussion.

'The important thing today is that Nigel is world champion. I am thrilled to bits for him. It's long overdue and he deserves it. You get out of life what you put into it and what he has achieved should be a lesson to us all.'

Hunt said: 'I congratulate Nigel and he deserves his championship. I hope he gets a chance to defend it with Williams but I also hope his demands are not too excessive.'

Senna has been offered a drive at Ferrari for next year but the Italian team are growing tired of his stalling tactics and have lined up his current team-mate at McLaren, Gerhard Berger. Senna may well stay at McLaren, particularly if Honda remain in Formula One for another year albeit under the Mugen banner.