The ongoing news is now being reported in more mainstream publications across the internet, indeed it seems that the evidence is pointing toward an announcement tomorrow by Williams:
Robert Kubica will have a race seat next year for the team, replacing Sergey Sirotkin.
Obviously, we’ve been here before. Last year TJ13 understood the preliminary deal had been done with Kubica and Williams for 2017, and it was merely a formality that was to be ratified after the last test of the season in Abu Dhabi 2017. We all remember how that went…
And so does Robert. Sources suggest that Kubica is forcing the team to make a decision earlier, not willing to be part of another shootout and thus being ‘gazumped’ (forgive the UK colloquial terminology for property conveyance), by a last minute Russian ruble influx post test. Indeed Williams led some reporters close to the team that it was Kubica’s inability to get on with the Pirelli tyres that cost him.
Andrew Benson towing the Williams line in the press soon after (click below). Another esteemed journo with close ties to the team, namely Joe Saward, was fed that Williams made an ‘engineering decision’, and would try to engineer their way out of the slump of 2017.
2017 – Kubica losses out
Despite what the team said last year, Robert wasn’t dumped for Sergey due to performance, the difference was marginal in lap time yes, but nowhere near as big as the money put on the table for that drive. Sources in the team admit that they were 99% convinced themselves that Kubica had the drive, but during the aforementioned end of season Abu Dhabi test the Russians upped their stake, outbidding Kubica’s Polish backed contribution.
2018 has proven to many that the choice of driver Williams decided on was incorrect, with a difficult car based on an entirely new concept championed by ex-Mercedes technical boss Paddy Lowe. Neither Stroll or Sirotkin managed to push the car sufficiently up the grid and Williams knew the Kubica would have done better.
The data collected in Friday practice and simulator tests have provided enough evidence to Williams that Kubica would’ve put the car higher up the grid in 2018 compared to their youngsters. As many as three or four qualifying grid slots, invaluable to the struggling team, last in the constructors standings.
The Italian publication La Gazetta Dello Sport claims that despite Kubica’s increased contribution to the team for next year, it still is less that the SMP backed Russian Sergey Sirotkin. The Italians argue that although Sirotkin offers 15 million dollars, Williams will be going for the Pole (who probably has an amount of USD 11 million) because of his speed, because “he was always faster”, further evidence that Williams were chasing the money last year.
Previously on TJ13: Kubica decision on Thursday, looks set to drive for Williams
For Polish comeback driver Robert Kubica, the decision for 2019 is more or less set.
The ex Sauber BMW, Lotus F1 and Ferrari (elect) driver understands there are two options for him, stay at Williams and allow the funds supporting him to buy seat time at Grove, or head to Ferrari as a simulator driver supporting Vettel and Leclerc.
Kubica to Ferrari with Alonso
“Will I be in Williams next year? I hope so. There are only two teams that officially have free seats next year and, no doubt, I do not go to Toro Rosso.” says Kubica.
“It’s a very intense period, with so many things happening. It is not about me or others that are having fun, and we do not want to announce what is decided.
“Everyone has to make their own decisions, I have openly said that I would take it by setting a deadline and I have already taken it, ” commented Kubica.
BMW didn’t fight to keep Vettel as Kubica consistently 0.4secs quicker
Of course the other factor involved is Esteban Ocon, and his removal from Force India. The Mercedes supported driver’s only chance to race in F1 is with Williams, but it’s looking less and less likely that this’ll occur. The Wolff managed driver will probably prop up as a full time tester for potentially all the Mercedes engined teams including Williams.
Floersch conscious but hospitalised after Macau shunt last weekend
Williams announcement Thursday
It is believed we’ll all know the result of the driver lineup for Williams this Thursday at the press conference in Abu Dhabi.
Indeed several factors point toward Kubica being announced as the driver to partner Russell in 2019.
Polish journalist Cezary Gutowski says that he’s been tipped off that Kubica will be announced on Thursday. Further, Acronis (a global technology company) will be attending the press conference. The Swiss firm are a major sponsor of Robert Kubica, so unlikely to be announcing involvement with the team for 2019 if their driver is off to Ferrari.