Russian driver Sergey Sirotkin will be announced by Williams next week as their driver to partner Canadian Lance Stroll.
The deal appears more or less done and will be announced next week, only a few minor details have yet to be ironed out. Most likely a long term arrangement with a driver option to continue for the 2019 season should he wish to take it.
The young driver managed to secure the seat using a significant sum of Russian money against the competing Polish driver Robert Kubica. Indeed the deal seemed done for the returning ex BMW and Renault man, but during the Abu Dhabi test Kubica didn’t hold a significant performance advantage over the youngster backed by SMP, a Russian bank with links to President Putin. Further, Kubica’s times weren’t consistently quick enough and the Polish driver fell well short of the money required to compete with the Russian.
How this will affect the Williams Martini sponsorship deal remains to be seen, but no doubt any shortfall incurred will be covered by Boris Romanovich, owner of SMP.
Felt it coming for some weeks. Pity, I was looking forward to see whether either Kyvat or Kubica could cut it at Williams. “Mo Money” wan the final battle, although I have to admit his times during the test weren’t bad either. The cash should be used to close the gap to Force India, Williams owes this to its own legacy.
The Martini “over 25” rule sounded BS at the time, and is proving so now.
Martini rule is a thing, but clearly not a big enough thing to halt serious sums of cash
“Mo Money” was always going to be the prime criteria. It’s unlikely that Williams retain 5th in the constructors WC with McLaren now having a Renault engine. In fact it’s easy to see Williams slipping to 8th in the constructors WC. Far better to have money in the bank than hope Kubica or Kyvat can earn it with points on the track.
Sirotkin is a lot better than he is being given credit for, I’m look forward to seeing how he does this year.
In his first year in GP2 he looked to be the only one capable of beating Stoffel with a team not usually running at the front –
Sirotkin was with Rapax then, who had not had much success since one Pastor Maldonado won it all with them, and while Maldonado’s career may have flamed out, I think Williams would be delighted if Sirotkin could match his one win in three years!
While I’m disappointed Kubica couldn’t come back (this time!), I only wanted to see him if he could deliver the goods, which both Renault and now Williams have decided he could not after a close look. That’s a pity, but not Sirotkin’s or a big bag of cashs fault, lets not forget Kubica was also bringing money to the table as part of the deal in the first place!
“… SMP, a Russian bank with links to President Putin.” Doesn’t EVERYTHING in Russia have links to Putin?
Anything successful. Not that there’s in anyway a link 😉