Formula 1

Rowland Doubts He’ll Get F1 Race Seat in 2019 Amid Young Driver Opposition

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Oliver Rowland - Williams Martini Racing - Hungaroring
Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

Oliver Rowland says it will be extremely difficult for him to be on the Formula 1 grid in 2019 despite impressing the Williams Martini Racing during his two testing outings this season, particularly with the number of up-and-coming drivers coming through junior formulae at the current time.

The 2014 Formula Renault 3.5 Series champion has been mainly performing simulator duty this season as Williams’ Official Young Driver, but with the likes of George Russell, Lando Norris and Alexander Albon all showing good speed and potential in FIA Formula 2, Rowland admits it is increasingly unlikely that he will be able to force his own way into a race seat.

“There’s a lot of people knocking on the door that are quite young,” Rowland is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com.  “I’m pretty happy with where I am at the moment.

“The relationship with the team is growing stronger and stronger and I’m enjoying what I’m doing back at the factory.  So, I have to keep pushing on that side, keep doing what I can for the team, and who knows where it will lead.”

One seat that may open up for Rowland is at his current Williams team, particularly if Lance Stroll’s rumoured move to the Sahara Force India F1 Team goes ahead, although current Formula 2 championship leader Russell has also been mentioned for the ride and would come with the backing of engine suppliers Mercedes-Benz.

However, Rowland says he is not going to break down any doors to get on the grid and will continue to do the best job he can for Williams across the remainder of 2018.

“The people at Williams have two drivers with contracts for next year so normally you’d say no but everybody hears the rumours,” said Rowland.  “I’m just staying quiet.

“The team seem pretty happy with what I’m doing so I’m not going to go breaking down doors to say ‘look at me’, that sort of thing.  I’m just going to do my job, go about it quietly, and hope they notice.”

So far, there are no further on-track plans for Rowland before the end of 2018 although he hopes to get the nod for at least one day of the post-Abu Dhabi Grand Prix test at the end of the season, so for now he will return to the factory and continuing his work in the simulator in a bid to improve the FW41’s performance.

“We’ll go back and do the simulator stuff, keep doing what I’m doing there,” said Rowland.  “We’re making really good progress back at the factory and hopefully I’ll attend a few more races.

“Who knows, there’s a test at the end of the year in Abu Dhabi and I’ll be pushing towards that and whatever comes up.”

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