Robert Kubica F1 return CONFIRMED: Williams hand Pole contract

Rosalie Gross
January 17, 2018

Williams chief technical officer Paddy Lowe says the team carried out a "rigorous and exhaustive driver evaluation process" before naming Sergey Sirotkin as Lance Stroll's teammate.

Sirotkin was a development driver for Renault previous year but was passed over in favour of Spaniard Carlos Sainz when it came to choosing a replacement for under-performing Briton Jolyon Palmer.

The Pole nearly lost his arm in the accident but, after surgery and rehabilitation, returned to drive in the World Rally Championship.

"It took a huge amount of work to get where I am", Sirotkin said.

Deputy team principal Claire Williams said the team had taken their time to evaluate all options but were confident the new pairing would deliver.

"The Williams philosophy has always been to promote and develop young talent and Sergey fits right into that ethos", Williams said. 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 an exciting line-up for 2018 which we believe will help us to maximize the potential of the FW41".

Williams said the Pole will take part in testing before and during the season as well as some Friday practice sessions and simulator work.

While Kubica's hopes of a sensational comeback will only be partially fulfilled, Lowe is expecting the Pole's reserve and development status to add great value to Williams' 2018 campaign.

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"My ultimate goal is to race again in F1 and this is another important step in that direction".

Sirotkin remains something of an unknown quantity, even if he performed strongly in testing.

Williams finished 2017 fifth in the Constructors' Championship but the inexperience of their 2018 driver line-up has already rung some alarm bells.

"I'm happy to announce that this year I will be racing for Williams Martini Racing!".

Kubica, 33, had at one point looked the favorite for the drive, with 2016 champion and former Williams driver Nico Rosberg championing his cause. "They don't seem to have the budget to do that".

Sirotkin has spent the past two seasons with Renault as a test and reserve driver.

"He had a number of [attending] briefings and races with us and opportunities in F1 cars, P1s and so forth". The 2011 auto was very different from the 2017 one, but I felt that he performed more than well and had no limitation. "See you in Barcelona on Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya!" "He could prove himself very useful in that respect".

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