Claire Williams frustrated by 'pay driver' negativity

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Williams deputy team boss Claire Williams is frustrated by the negative attitude towards drivers who bring financial support to the teams they race for.

Eighteen-year-old Lance Stroll will debut for Williams this year following his European Formula 3 championship success. The Canadian teenager's career has been funded by billionaire father Lawrence, who paid for a series of private tests for his son on current F1 circuits last year to prepare for his rookie campaign.

Stroll represents the perfect combination of money and talent but smaller F1 teams have been criticised in the past for hiring drivers for purely financial reasons. Williams says every team must consider finances when choosing a driver line-up.

"With every driver in Formula One there are commercial considerations for any TP [team principal]," Williams said. "[Fernando] Alonso comes with financial backing -- maybe not personal but he attracts sponsors, Santander is there [at McLaren] because of him; Jenson [Button] exactly the same thing; Sergio Perez.

"I don't understand why in this sport that is such big business, and where teams rely on having budgets in excess of a million sterling if they're to succeed, why there is such a negative connotation around having a driver that brings backing. And not only in Formula One. Motorsport as a whole is such an expensive business -- you don't get into the upper echelons unless you can find significant budgets to go racing."

Williams feels it is unfair to be critical of a team or well-funded driver because many F1 teams operate on the margins.

"I don't know why people criticise drivers when they have financial backing, because if they didn't many teams in this sport wouldn't necessarily survive, and then the sport wouldn't survive. The commercial model in Formula One has changed. It's a much more expensive sport than it's ever been, so sometimes those situations are going to arise."