Williams have announced that Russian Sergey Sirotkin will partner Lance Stroll for 2018 F1 Season.
Williams are the last team to complete their driver line-up for 2018 after months of speculation of whom was going to get the race seat alongside Stroll.
With Felipe Massa confirming his retirement for good this time at the end of the season, Williams were left with a number of potential drivers that could fill the vacant seat. After impressing with Renault with a private test in Valencia, Robert Kubica was the main contender for the seat. The list also included former F1 driver Paul di Resta, who filled in for Massa at the Hungarian GP, former Toro Rosso driver, Daniil Kvyat and former Sauber driver Pascal Wehrlein were also in the mix.
After the final race of the F1 2017 season in Abu Dhabi, Williams choose Kubica and Sirotkin to fight it out in a driver test.
The seat has ultimately went to Sirotkin with Williams impressed with his technical feedback and secondly his budget which he is bringing to the team.
For Williams, they field the least experienced driver line-up on the grid. Stroll made his debut season last year with the highlight of Williams’s only podium in 2017 with 3rd in Azerbaijan GP.
Kubica given Reserve role
Having lost out on a race seat for 2018, Williams have kept Kubica on as their reserve and development driver.
Kubica, winner of the 2008 Canadian GP and a veteran of 76 F1 starts will help Williams over the course of 2018. The Pole will participate in a number of practise sessions along with pre-season testing and in-season testing.
If Kubica can perform well over the course of the year, his dream of returning to F1, full-time as a race driver, could be on the cards. If so, this legendary comeback will be the biggest comeback the sport has had for a while.
2018 needs to be a strong year for Williams. Williams finished 5th with 83 points, 104 behind Force India, a team they were fighting very closely only a couple of years ago. The Grove team ultimately didn’t want to risk running Kubica, hence why they gave him the role of reserve and development driver.
The pairing of Stroll and Sirotkin will be the least-experienced on the grid. This line-up will receive major criticism as both will be perceived as two ‘pay drivers’. Williams needs to watch their backs with the resurgence of McLaren and Renault likely to move both teams up the championship. As a result, Williams could potentially drop to 7th or worse.
2018 could be very tough.