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.