ROKit Williams Racing shocked the Formula 1 community when it signed relatively unknown Israeli driver Roy Nissany to be the team’s official test driver for the 2020 season, a role which will see him take part in three Free Practice 1 sessions, as well as a rookie-test day.
25-year-old Nissany has only five car racing wins in 195 starts, and finished twenty-second in the 2018 FIA Formula 2 championship with only a single point to his name.
These type of results led to sceptics in the F1 community questioning what Williams exact motives were in signing Nissany as test driver, besides the obvious commercial ones; as Nissany brings Canadian/ Israeli sponsor “Start Up” onto the car for the 3 FP1 sessions he is scheduled to partake in.
According to Nissany himself, however, the motives are clear. “I feel like we are all putting the Israeli flag on the map,” Nissany told Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport .
“The goal is to race in Israel in 2021, it would be a dream to be able to drive there, with 350 million people admiring my country on TV.”
According to Start Up owner and Nissany backer Sylvan Adams, their ambitions for his future also involve a Formula One race seat, as early as 2021.
“The fast-track plan is for Roy to be an actual F1 driver as early as 2021,” said Adams.
“Of course, he has a few hurdles to accomplish before he can be selected to be one of the two drivers.”
Nissany only has 8 super licence points to his name on the date of publication, thanks to a fourth place in the 2017 World Series V8 3.5 championship standings.
Unfortunately for Nissany and his backers, these points expire after the 2020 season, leaving Nissany’s only option for obtaining a super licence being to score third place or better in the 2020 Formula 2 Standings, a tall ask considering he is driving for underdog team Trident, and that the Formula 2 grid looks to be extremely competitive in 2020.
Whether a 2021 Israeli Grand Prix comes to fruition or not is a matter of demand from F1 owners Liberty Media, funding, and the ability to build an FIA Grade 1 circuit 14 months before the 2021 season starts.