For the first time in 2018, Williams Martini Racing will use their third driver during the first free practice session, with Robert Kubica taking the place of Sergey Sirotkin at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on Friday morning.
The Chief Technical Officer of Williams, Paddy Lowe, is interested to get the feedback from the Polish driver about the state of the FW41 that has only finished inside the points in one of the opening four races, although it will have updates added to it this weekend.
For Kubica, it is his first taste of an official Formula 1 session since the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix back in 2010, with his subsequent career being ruined by a horror rallying crash just prior to the 2011 season.
“It’s going to be a busy weekend for us,” said Lowe. “We have Robert Kubica taking part in FP1 in place of Sergey; his first of three FP1 appearances this season.
“We have a busy Friday programme and it will be interesting to get Robert’s feedback on the car. Sergey has driven many laps on this track in pre-season testing so he won’t miss out too much.”
Lowe is also relying on Kubica and Oliver Rowland during the post-Spanish Grand Prix test next week, with the duo being tasked to complete a huge programme across Tuesday and Wednesday.
“We also have two days of testing following the race with our Official Young Driver Oliver Rowland, and Robert, and we have a huge programme to fit into those two days to make progress with the development of the car,” said Lowe.
Lowe hopes the upgrades to the FW41 can bring the team more into contention for points, with Lance Stroll’s eighth place in Azerbaijan two weeks ago the only top ten finish for the outfit in the opening four races, with the four points on the board leaving them bottom of the Constructors’ Championship.
“We come to Spain this weekend and the very demanding Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya,” said Lowe. “They say that the car that is quickest around here is generally going to be quickest at most races in the season.
“It is the first race where traditionally you see many more upgrades arriving, as we are back to our truck-based logistics rather than airfreight which has seen us through the first four events. We are bringing a reasonably significant upgrade to this race, but probably not different to most other teams.”