The decision has been made and Williams F1 have announced their 2018 driver lineup. Many were hoping to see a return for Robert Kubica but all is not lost as Robert has secured a reserve and development role with the team.
Lance Stroll will team with Sergey Sirotkin for the 2018 season and after a series of test drives for several candidates, Williams chose the young man with an engineering degree.
Sergey Sirotkin added; “To say I’m happy and proud to join such a famous team like Williams is an understatement. It took a huge amount of work to get where I am, and I’m really happy and thankful to everyone involved. The result of our combined efforts has helped me achieve my dream, and rest assured the team can rely on me to deliver my best.”
Claire Williams, Deputy Team Principal said; “After an extensive driver evaluation process, I am thrilled to have our 2018 line-up finalised, and I’m excited to see what next season brings. We have taken our time to evaluate all the available options, and I’m confident Lance and Sergey can deliver the best results for the team. The Williams philosophy has always been to promote and develop young talent and Sergey fits right into that ethos. Lance has had a record-breaking debut season, and with a year now under his belt, he will be ready to hit the ground running in 2018. We have a talented driver line-up for 2018, that we are confident will deliver some exciting results for the team.”
Paddy Lowe, Chief Technical Officer, added; “We have conducted a rigorous and exhaustive driver evaluation process. Ultimately, Sergey impressed the team with his driving pace and talent, technical feedback and work ethic, both at the factory and trackside in Abu Dhabi. I’m delighted he will be joining the team to partner Lance next season. Lance will be going into his second season with us, after notable achievements in his rookie year. We have an exciting line-up for 2018 which we believe will help us to maximise the potential of the FW41.”
Before you get really frustrated about Kubica, he is most likely in the best place to make a possible F1 return. Let’s be honest, he hasn’t driven in anger in F1 for quite some time. His rally accident ended his short-lived F1 career but working his way back into a development role might give Robert the chance to re-capture his F1 chops as the team seems intent to let him run on Fridays etc.
Robert Kubica said; “I’m extremely happy to be joining the Williams team as its official Reserve and Development Driver this season. I feel in the best physical shape that I have ever been, but it has taken a lot of work to get to where I am now, so I’d like to thank Williams for the opportunities they have given me so far, and for putting their faith in me with this appointment. I have enjoyed being back in the Formula One paddock over these past few months, and I now look forward to working with the Williams technical team, both at the factory and at the track, to really help push forward the development of the FW41 and to make a real difference to their 2018 campaign. Having driven both the FW36 and the FW40, I’m looking forward to seeing how the FW41 measures up on track and working with the team to ensure we can maximise the performance of the car. My ultimate goal remains to race again in Formula One and this is another important step in that direction: I cannot wait to get started.”
Claire Williams, Deputy Team Principal, said: “I am delighted to announce that Robert will be joining Williams as our Reserve and Development Driver for the 2018 season. All of us at Williams have been immensely impressed at what he has achieved, and it is a great credit to his strength of character and commitment to return to Formula One. We are excited to be continuing our relationship with Robert and look forward to working with him this coming season.”
Paddy Lowe, Chief Technical Officer, added: “First and foremost, we’d like to congratulate Robert on what he has achieved so far. To overcome his injuries, return to fitness, and drive a Formula One car again is a remarkable achievement, and one that few considered possible. We anticipate Robert will make a strong technical contribution to the team, using his wealth of experience in track testing, simulator work, and support to the race drivers and engineers at every race. He is a driver I have admired for many years and I am personally very happy to be working with him towards our 2018 Championship.”