Williams has named Robert Kubica as its reserve and development driver for the 2018 season after selecting Sergey Sirotkin for its final race seat.
The role will see Kubica take part in pre-season testing at the Circuit de Catalunya, in-season test sessions and make an unspecified number of Friday practice appearances.
Kubica has been seeking a return to F1 racing since recovering from the injuries he sustained in a rally crash seven years ago. Despite testing for Renault and Williams within the past 12 months he has been passed over for race seats at both teams.
Chief technical officer Paddy Lowe congratulated Kubica on the progress he has made since the accident. “To overcome his injuries, return to fitness, and drive a Formula One car again is a remarkable achievement, and one that few considered possible.”
“We anticipate Robert will make a strong technical contribution to the team, using his wealth of experience in track testing, simulator work, and support to the race drivers and engineers at every race. He is a driver I have admired for many years and I am personally very happy to be working with him towards our 2018 championship.”
Deputy team principal Claire Williams said the team is “immensely impressed” by Kubica’s recovery.
“It is a great credit to his strength of character and commitment to return to Formula One. We are excited to be continuing our relationship with Robert and look forward to working with him this coming season.”
2018 F1 season
- Honda’s jet division helped F1 engineers solve power unit problem
- McLaren Racing losses rise after Honda split
- Ricciardo: Baku “s***show” was Red Bull’s fault
- “Drive to Survive Episode 1: All to Play For” reviewed
- F1’s television and social media audiences rose last year
22 comments on “Kubica to make test and practice session appearances for Williams”
16th January 2018, 11:35
Hoping for a Palmer style mid-season ‘drop and swap’ for one of the ‘current’ race drivers.
16th January 2018, 11:56
Or worst case, if Stroll is well behind Sirotkin at the end of the year then he replaces Stroll at that point.
If Kubica is still as good as most of us hope and that there is a level of truth in Sirotkin being at least a match for Kubica. Then Sirotkin should blow Stroll away. If the new boy does indeed do this then they will be hard pushed to justify keeping Stroll as he no longer has the rookie excuse.
17th January 2018, 12:23
Joking? Boys are in the fog and will stay there. Double Palmers story, but money will keep they racing/driving
16th January 2018, 11:42
good PR by williams, but seems to be a tactical mis-step. they have 2 novice drivers (stroll is effectively a novice, he’s only 12 years old) so they need all the car time they can get. from a cold-hearted logical perspective, kubica taking one of the pre-season tests is highly questionable.
16th January 2018, 16:29
As a counterpoint, if its true that his speed is a bit waning but his feedback is stroll excellent then it stands to reason that this is an invaluable roll to have him in. He may be able to help make the car better in a way two novices cannot, perhaps allowing them to unleash their potential (assuming they have said potential)
16th January 2018, 11:43
I will admit a big caveat to all my negativity over at the Sirotkin news page: 8 outings in FP the coming season could well see Kubica get a race seat in F1 in 2019 or earlier. If it’s the new cars and tyres he needs to get used to, expect him to outpace his teammates by the third outing. This is impressive from Williams, and may even be in their advantage with two such average drivers (and whether or not Sirotkin’s money comes through).
16th January 2018, 11:48
I like that more positive view on what Williams did here, and hope it turns out to be right @hahostolze, you’d think 8 outings should allow Kubica a relatively good chance.
16th January 2018, 21:18
@hahostolze, Kubica has been testing for many many full race distances by now. Both with Renault and then again at Williams. Despite all that, Sirotkin was faster than Kubica with much less mileage and previous F1 experience.
16th January 2018, 11:45
So basically, he’s gonna set up the cars for the newbies, so they can get the praise.
I hope his input will get recognized and appreciated.
Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine)
16th January 2018, 11:52
I think much of the reaction to this is still bound up in the will he/won’t he of the past few months. It’s hard to look at this story with a fresh set of eyes.
But if Kubica genuinely is at a point in his recovery where he’s almost but not quite ready for a full 21 F1 races, this is a great step towards achieving that. I hope it’ll happen, but only if he truly is up to it.
16th January 2018, 12:09
Agree, no one would want to see him come back and not have the magic of before.
I think if Sirotkin (as a rookie) can come in and comfortably outpace Stroll to a level that Massa did or greater. Then it would justify the teams decision, and make it likely that the suggestion that Sirotkin currently has the edge was not bull.
If Williams have made a decision based on the performance evaluation alone (people can choose to believe this or not). Then anything other than Sirotkin comprehensively beating Stroll would suggest Kubica may struggle to come back. Kubica needs Sirotkin to be out and out fast, so he has someone to demonstrate his talent against, I think a 2019 drive will depend on it.
16th January 2018, 12:46
Well said as usual @keithcollantine, I think I’ll consider the Williams driver situation in a positive light for now, with Williams giving Kubica more of an actual chance than Renault dared to.
16th January 2018, 13:07
@keithcollantine @bosyber Well said. +1.
16th January 2018, 16:26
It’s actually a fairly smart move, all things considered.
Plus, if Kubica out-performs one of the drivers, Williams could drop one of their cash cows and still be left with one! It buys Kubica time to get up to speed. Really, it’s now over to him.
16th January 2018, 12:36
Williams’ driver line-up highlights the financial melee F1 is in. We are currently not able to see the 20 best drivers in the world compete. Frankly that is such a key ingredient of F1 “raison d’etre” that it needs to be tackled soon. Sooner than 2020.
Immediately move towards cost control, basically taking away the need to hire a paying driver. Either cost cap (and control) needs to be implemented or Liberty should encourage Mercedes and Ferrari (and to a lesser extent Renault) to leave the sport as teams.
16th January 2018, 12:58
It has never been about the best drivers in the world, and it never will be.
Racing is an expensive hobby for most drivers.
At least some drivers manage to get paid for their services.
16th January 2018, 13:09
“We’re unsure if all of Sirotkins money will arrive”
16th January 2018, 14:02
Leaked template from the Williams PR handbook:
“We anticipate [driver name] will make a strong [appropriate adjective] contribution to the team, using his wealth […appropriate filler…] championship!”
But seriously, this actually may be the best outcome at present for Kubica. Getting used to the new cars without the pressure may be the best way for himself and teams to see where his pace is at after a few outings.
17th January 2018, 2:02
Why does the teams always prefer young drivers as test drivers than the experienced ones, leaving Kubica? How good should be a development driver who test the car in the pre and mid season tests when the regular ones are not participating in the tests.
17th January 2018, 12:29
One season lost for Kubica. Pity.
Let’s see it as it is. Kubica had seat in Williams after 5 tests. Suddenly Kvyat/Russians lost the seat and bought the last one in Williams. With Sochi GP – everybody happy, except Kubica who list the season. Re speed – we will see soon.
17th January 2018, 18:36
In the cold light of day I think we all wanted the dream ‘Kubica comeback’ story to be realised, but formula one has moved on and the questions regarding his fitness and pace made it too big a gamble for Williams.
The optimist in me sees even this test role as a great comeback for Robert
The cynic in me fully expect to see Robert’s ‘Lotto’ sponsor adorning the William$ this season
17th January 2018, 19:53
Well, better than nothing.
Atleast we see him drive in televised fashion.
As for youngsters… Stroll has a reputation for being poor, what if Sirotkin blows him away?
Williams will have 50% more driver feedback, good media attention.
But all 3 are a somewhat unproven quantity. Nothing like SFI, McLaren Renault and other midfield teams. If their drivers underperform they might compete for final places.
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