Robert Kubica’s fairytale return to Formula One may not happen. After a few latest developments, it seems like he is no longer in the running for a Williams seat. Williams are now set to choose between Sergey Sirotkin, Paul di Resta and back-up Daniil Kvyat. Sirotkin has emerged as the favourite option given his substantial financial backing.
Kubica was the preferred option prior to his Abu Dhabi outing for the team. Now, sources suggest the Polish driver doesn’t meet Williams’ performance standards. Sirotkin had been outpacing him during the test.
Kubica’s outright performance was also the reason Renault chose to chase Carlos Sainz as a late-season replacement for Jolyon Palmer. And all this was despite Kubica’s multiple tests with the French manufacturer.
The 22-year-old Sirotkin was formerly a Renault reserve driver. Sergey brings backing worth an estimated $20 million (£15m) from SMP Racing. Kubica does have a backup plan though just in case the F1 return does not materialise. He secured a seat in the World Endurance Championship before pulling out ahead of the season opener in order to chase his dream F1 return. Williams Head of Vehicle Performance Rob Smedley said after the season finale that the team hoped to make an announcement on their line-up before the new year.
Williams have insisted that its decision on the driver to partner Lance Stroll next season will be based on performance. Talks with the 22-year-old Russian, who has performed reserve duties for Renault this year, are now at an advanced stage. However, there are several details yet to be negotiated before the final contract is signed. If things don’t work out, former Toro Rosso and Red Bull driver Daniil Kvyat is believed to be the back-up option.
Besides Kubica, Williams reserve Paul di Resta, who stood in for the injured Felipe Massa in Hungary this year, is also out of the running. But despite all the speculation, Williams is remaining tight-lipped regarding its 2018 driver line-up. In other words, Robert Kubica’s fairytale return is still possible but will it happen?