Sergey Sirotkin looks to be in prime position to complete Williams Martini Racing’s line-up for the 2018 Formula 1 season as the fairy tale of Robert Kubica returning seems not to be happening after all.
According to Autosport, Kubica’s return to Formula 1 after a six-year hiatus following a career and life-threatening injury he suffered in a rallying crash in early 2011 will not indeed come to fruition, and Williams is now set to announce Russian Sirotkin alongside Lance Stroll in 2018.
Sirotkin, who drove for Williams alongside Kubica in the post-Abu Dhabi Grand Prix test, looks set to bring the SMP Racing name to Formula 1, with the Boris Rotenberg-led SMP Bank set to put up to £15million of backing into the team, and coupled with the twenty-two-year-old impressing the team in the test, it appears the pipe dream of Kubica to return is over, for now.
It appears Kubica is not now even second choice, with Daniil Kvyat set to be back-up should the Sirotkin role fall-through, while Paul di Resta, who stepped into Felipe Massa’s seat at short notice for the Hungarian Grand Prix, looks also to be out of the running, as is Pascal Wehrlein and Oliver Rowland, although Williams themselves remain tight-lipped about just who will be on the grid next season.
But what now for Kubica? Potential drives with both the Renault Sport Formula 1 Team and with Williams have now passed him by, so is there any chance the popular Pole, who was tipped to be a World Champion by many prior to his rally crash and took one victory for BMW Sauber in the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix, can make that emotional step back into the premiere single seater category in the world.
But what an opportunity it would be to multiple GP2 Series race winner Sirotkin, who appeared to be in contention for a reserve and test driver role at best prior to the test in Abu Dhabi but now looks set to become only the third Russian to race in Formula 1 after Vitaly Petrov and Kvyat.