Williams rejects Rowland’s claim he is being considered for a 2018 seat

2018 F1 season

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Williams has denied Oliver Rowland is in contention for a drive with the team next year after the driver’s PR team issued a statement claiming he was.

Rowland was quoted on Friday saying: “My team is in talks with Williams, as they are with other teams.”

“British car, British driver it fits well,” he added. “Lots of drivers seem to be in the frame for 2018, so we will just have to see what happens.”

Rowland raced in Formula Two this year
However a Williams spokesperson told F1 Fanatic that Rowland “is not in contention for the race seat and has not had discussions regarding this.”

“We have not got any plans for roles beyond our race drivers at present,” they added.

Williams is seeking a new team mate for Lance Stroll next season following Felipe Massa’s retirement.

Rowland, the 2015 Formula Renault 3.5 champion, finished third in Formula Two this year with the DAMS team. Prior to that he finished runner-up to Pierre Gasly in Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup in 2013. He subsequently joined Renault’s junior driver development programme.

His fellow Renault junior driver Sergey Sirotkin tested for Williams at Yas Marina following the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last week. The team also ran Robert Kubica, who is seeking to return to F1 following the serious injuries he suffered in 2011.

Rowland says he is also in discussions about a potential move to the Japanese Super Formula championship having visited a test session for the series this week. “Talks went very well,” he wrote on social media, “plenty of options, so watch this space.”

The Williams seat is the final place available on the 2018 grid following Sauber’s confirmation of its driver line-up last weekend.

View the current list of 2018 F1 drivers and teams

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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35 comments on “Williams rejects Rowland’s claim he is being considered for a 2018 seat”

  1. Perhaps Rowland’s team has applied for the job of Oliver driving one of the team’s transporters?

    1. He’d have to change his driving technique.

  2. A 100/1 tank outsider! Worth a bet?

    1. *rank* of course…🙄

    2. @baron Not even at those odds.

      I do feel Rowland has been a bit hard done by though. If you compare his results to someone like Sirotkin who’s on the same junior programme as he is, Rowland has done better yet Sirotkin is the one getting the F1 tests. Perhaps the age difference is working against him.

      1. @keithcollantine Has Rowland really done a better job though? Their junior careers are pretty much the same, okay Rowland won FR3.5 but against a weak field. Sirotkin was 3rd in his first GP2 season for an uncompetitive team, then third again with an ART team which had had pretty much all of its top staff poached by Prema. Looked in contention for the title most of the season as well, which Rowland never really did this year against Leclerc. Sirotkin much more impressive I’d say, and younger. Personally I feel he has star potential, while Rowland would be another Di Resta or the like – good, but not spectacular.

      2. Not to mention the lack of petro-rubles

        1. @hahostolze Sirotkin hasn’t had petro-rubles behind him most of his career though… he has got some support now from SMP racing but according to the rumours it’s around £8-10 million, which is a lot less than some drivers, and about the same as Kubica. Don’t fall into the trap of assuming that just because he’s Russian he must have mega-money behind him.

          1. @tflb LOL, so when he was made Sauber reserve driver at the age of 17 in 2013 it was because of his Verstappen-esque talent and not the millions upon millions his backers promised Sauber? Good one.

          2. @hahostolze no need for the bad attitude. The Sauber money never materialised as far as I am aware. And that doesn’t change the fact that in the present he is not a money-train like you seem to think, nor has he been since the Sauber investors seem to have done a runner.

          3. @hahostolze Not to mention he is in my opinion one of the best single-seat drivers not currently in F1, and is apparently highly-rated by the F1 teams. But many people assume he’s terrible for some reason.

          4. If Sirotkin had money I think he would have raced this year. When they’ve raced in the same championship, Rowland got the better of Sirotkin in FR3.5 and Sirotkin got the better of Rowland in GP2. Most of established drivers in junior categories raced against the likes of Leclerc, Verstappen, Ocon, Stroll, Gasly, Giovanazzi even Magnussen, Vandoorne, Palmer, Sainz, Kvyat, Mehri, Stevens and lost. Those drivers got promoted pretty quickly leaving other drivers behind to complete multiple season of F3 / GP3 / FR3.5 / GP2 / F2. The fact Oliver Rowland is already 25 (minimum age for Martini) means he has already been passed up by F1 teams year after year.

          5. £8-£10 million is probably double and possibly treble what Oliver has, so it could still be an explanatory factor – especially if Williams has a good sponsor in the pipeline or thinks it can get an uprate in fees to current sponsors, and is looking for a potential substitution for Lance.

          6. @hahostolze Sergey’s management thought they had a large sponsor coming at that specific moment, who would pay for the seat. That sponsor let Sergey and Sauber down, meaning the seat didn’t happen. This meant that Sergey had to spend a few years in the junior categroy more than intended. I believe this has been to the benefit of his skill level, though until SMP’s recent foray, it did not attract much in the way of backing.

    3. Given Williams’ heritage, I could semi-believe Oliver was being considered to help drive a tank in a pre-season PR opportunity! Probably more chance of that than of getting even the reserve driver role at Williams.

      More seriously, this doesn’t look good given that he’s on the Renault development scheme. Usually one would think this sort of talk, made prematurely public, would cause unnecessary friction. This was a bad move by Oliver’s PR people.

  3. OUCH!!! having a team come out and straight out deny what is now obviously an attempt to up one’s reputation like this gotta hurt…

    then again, I’m always doubtful when someone claims to be “in talks” with any team or sponsor: in theory, I could send Williams an email and then when they, inevitably don’t respond, claim I have ‘open talks with Williams to be their next driver’ :/

    1. Or “I met someone who works in Williams down the pub and told them I’d like to race for them”

  4. This Williams 2nd seat is getting more canditates than the Mercedes seat that Rosberg left!!! So many drivers being heard for that seat,even some unrelated to the team(like Rowland)… Lets see what will happen in the end, cause personally i have been tired of all that speculation…

  5. I do hope kubica will recover from even more injuries he’s about to get in 2018 @keithcollantine

    1. OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! (@)
      8th December 2017, 20:11


    2. What does that mean?

      1. im guessing a typo in the article that has been corrected.

  6. Poor kubica and his 2018 injuries.

  7. If this is just a ploy by his management/agents to try and up his profile, I hope he fires them. This is really dumb move, Williams won’t take kindly to been forced to put out a statement like that, and I expect it’ll be looked at badly by other F1 teams to, and it’s just embarrassing for him.

    You can only get away with this if you’re already a sought after driver who has lots of options and teams are eager to get your pen on their paper.

  8. Maybe they’re both right and it’s just a short talk.

    “Got any drives?”

    Being slightly less flippant, it’s a shame there’s no obvious place for Rowland to go. OK Leclerc was the class of the F2 field by a long way, but Rowland is one of a few other drivers one rung down who still look like decent possibilities for the future of F1.

  9. Rowland is not ready for F1. Will probably never be.
    He is like torpedo Kvyat but worse.

  10. Oh dear, have the Russian trolls hacked F1Fanatic accounts?

    1. @hahostolze Where exactly are these Russian trolls you’re referring to? I can’t see anything trollish in this thread.

  11. Worked out for him in the end, I guess … :-)

    In February 2018 Rowland was confirmed as Williams Martini Racing’s official Junior Driver.

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