The Williams F1 team have confirmed that they have shortlisted 3 candidates to partner Lance Stroll in 2018. They have also stated that Robert Kubica is one of the drivers being evaluated for a race seat. Another driver in the running is reserve driver Paul di Resta. The Scot was given a run in Hungary after Felipe Massa called in sick. Even Massa himself has expressed interest in staying on for 1 more season.
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Meet the Candidates
Massa was convinced to come out of retirement to partner rookie driver Lance Stroll. The Brazilian veteran has a one-year contract with the British marquee. But he has said that he is in talks to extend it for another year. However he wanted Williams to show him that they are genuinely interested in him. He did not wish to be a last resort driver. When asked if the plan was Williams or nothing, Massa said “I think so. Or maybe something happens, a guy like Rosberg decides to retire. But I don’t think it will happen.”
He had previously explored other options but it became clear the Williams was the only alternative. He said “I’m still thinking, I’m still talking with the team to see if they want me or not. I need to be sure maybe I can have a better year.” Earlier in the year, he entertained thoughts of entering Formula E but he said he has yet to decide.
Paul di Resta
The Scot is one of the most respected members of the Williams team. He impressed the team when he filled in for an ill Felipe Massa in Hungary. The 31-year old became the reserve driver in 2016. What made his Hungary performance even more impressive was the fact that he was within a second of Stroll. This was despite the fact that he had never driven the car prior to qualifying.
6 years after his Rallying crash, Robert Kubica was finally back in an F1 car, courtesy Renault. But when Carlos Sainz Jr signed for 2018, that door was slammed shut. But a return to F1 is still a possibility thanks to Williams. Sources within the team said “We are evaluating a number of drivers for our 2018 race seat, of which Kubica is one. The details of how we are evaluating the drivers on the list is obviously confidential. But we will make any announcements regarding our future plans when we are in a position to do so”. 2016 World Champion Nico Rosberg, who debuted with Williams, has also joined Kubica’s management team.[interaction id=”59c7de392650e50001d5b982″]
Williams were planning to arrange a test for the Polish driver. But the plan did not get clearance from Lawrence Stroll, Lance’s father. The Strolls had decided to ship the two 2014-spec cars at its disposal directly from Japan to Austin in order to gather mileage ahead of the US Grand Prix. Williams do have one 2014-spec car left and could possibly use it to assess Robert somewhere in Europe. It is important to note that the Strolls have no say on who will partner Lance, but they do have a say on who can run on Lance’s time at the private tests.