Williams has ended the hopes of Robert Kubica driving with the team in the 2018 Formula 1 World Championship by announcing on Tuesday that it has signed Sergey Sirotkin.
The 22-year-old Russian impressed the team with his performance at a recent tire test in Abu Dhabi plus the list of accomplishments already under his belt.
Sirotkin is part of Russia’s SMP Racing program which nurtures young drivers. After starting out in karting as a youngster last decade, he finished third overall in GP2 in the years 2015 and 2016. He’s also tested extensively for Renault Sport F1. This will be his first time driving in F1.
Sirotkin is taking the seat of Felipe Massa who retired from F1 at the end of the last season. He joins 19-year old Canadian Lance Stroll who made his own F1 debut with Williams last year.
“To say I’m happy and proud to join such a famous team like Williams is an understatement,” Sirotkin said in a statement. “It took a huge amount of work to get where I am, and I’m really happy and thankful to everyone involved.
To provide some experience for its young drivers, Williams has signed Kubica as a reserve and development driver. He tested with the team throughout much of the second half of 2017 and was rumored to be among the candidates for Massa’s seat.
Kubica, 33, became the first Polish F1 driver in 2006 when he joined BMW Sauber, the team with which he would secure his first and only win, which took place at the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix. He moved to Renault in 2010 but his career was ended prematurely due to a major crash during a rally in which he was participating prior to the start of the 2011 season. Tragically, the crash left his right hand severely damaged, making it difficult for him to return to his previous form.
Williams will reveal its FW41 2018 F1 car ahead of pre-season testing in late February. The first race is the Australian Grand Prix on March 25.