Kubica was ‘almost convinced’ he’d race in Australia

Date published: February 22 2018

Although Robert Kubica tried to keep his expectations in check, the Pole has confessed he was “almost convinced” he’d race for Williams at this year’s Australian GP.

Kubica was believed to the frontrunner for the vacant Williams race-seat only to lose it at the final hurdle to Sergey Sirotkin.

Williams threw Kubica, whose F1 career looked to have ended with his 2001 rally crash, a lifeline as they signed him as their reserve driver for the upcoming campaign.

The 33-year-old, though, says for a moment he believed he would be the one racing for Williams.

“The next seven, eight, nine months of the season can bring me closer to this [return],” Autosport reports him as having told Polish newspaper Przegla%u0328d Sportowy.

“I don’t really know how close I was at that moment, but now it’s not important anymore.

“As a rule, I keep expectations low and I have a habit of believing in things only when they happen, but at some point I was almost convinced that I will be taking part in Australia.”

And although Kubica will head to Melbourne as a reserve driver, a moment he is not relishing, he is hoping that it will lead to a race-seat down the line.

“I was thinking about it and to be honest, I don’t think it will be a nice moment for me,” he said.

“Going to races to see other drivers are racing will not be nice, but it’s worth trying in order to come back.

“It may as well just be a part of the long journey I’ve completed so far and I’m glad I found myself at this point.

“I also think that there will be great moments when I’ll feel satisfaction with this role, even though I won’t compete and fight on track.

“I will do everything to have a chance again. I’m aiming to take back what life took away from me to some extent. I hope it wasn’t taken away forever.”

Former McLaren aerodynamics joins Williams

Date published: February 20 2018

Doug McKiernan, McLaren’s former head of aerodynamics, has joined the Williams team as their new chief engineer, reunited with Paddy Lowe.

McKiernan signed with McLaren back in 1999 as an aerodynamics analyst. He worked his way through the ranks to become chief aerodynamicist, head of aerodynamics and then chief engineer

He left the team in 2015 after a period of gardening leave but will return to Formula 1 this season as he reunites with another former McLaren man, Lowe.

“Since returning to Williams last year, it has become clear that in order help move the team forward we need greater engineering resources,” said Lowe, Williams’ chief technical officer

“We have already started to make excellent progress, with Dirk de Beer our head of aerodynamics leading an invigorated aerodynamics team.

“The addition of Doug to the senior team, supporting our chief Designer Ed Wood and Dirk in particular, will give us the breadth for more focus on technical strategy, and the optimisation of car architecture across design and aerodynamics.”

Stroll: Kubica’s practice run will help Williams

Date published: February 19 2018

Lance Stroll believes Williams will benefit greatly from having Robert Kubica on board, especially when he does practice runs on grand prix Fridays.

Kubica has joined Williams as their reserve driver for the 2018 season.

As part of his deal the Pole will get behind the wheel of FW41 in testing as well as three FP1 sessions; Spain, Austria and Abu Dhabi.

“It’s great for us and great for the team,” Stroll told F1i.com.

“Robert has a tremendous amount of experience in Formula 1 and can really help us go in the right direction with correlation between the simulator and the car.

“Doing a couple of FP1s, I really believe it can help.

“The fact that he’s driven so many great F1 cars, he’s competed with some really good teams, he can give us some good knowledge, it will definitely help us because it’s going to be a very competitive year.”

Williams ‘looking for a step change’

Date published: February 17 2018

Although Paddy Lowe is expecting a fierce battle behind F1’s top three teams, he is hoping that a “step change” in performance can keep Williams in the hunt.

Williams became the second team to launch their 2018 challenger, taking the covers off the Halo-adorned FW41 in London on Thursday.

The car is the first designed under Lowe’s watch following the technical chief’s move from Mercedes.

And while Lowe acknowledges that Williams are set to face still competition this season, he believes Williams can step up to the challenge.

“We are trying to achieve an element of step change and not just a progression,” explained Lowe.

“We were two seconds or so a lap slower than the front runners [in 2017] and that is something we would like to close up considerably.

“So we are looking for a step change.

“We are hoping to be well up there, but we recognise some incredible competition out there.

“Obviously the front three teams are established in a good position.

“We have Force India who did a terrific job last year and beat us in the championship.

“We also have McLaren with a different engine: they will be a threat. And we have Renault emerging.

“So that is already six out of the nine teams we are competing against. We don’t take anything for granted.”

Excited Sirotkin ‘living’ at Williams factory

Date published: February 16 2018

Sergey Sirotkin says it feels as if he is “almost living” in the Williams factory as he prepares for his debut F1 campaign.

Signed as Felipe Massa’s replacement for the 2018 season, the Russian driver has been acclimitising to life with Williams.

Ahead of his first season in the sport, he has been spending hours in the team’s simulator getting a feel for the set-up of the car and the various grand prix circuits.

In fact Sirotkin says he feels as if he is “almost living” in the Grove HQ.

“I feel really excited ahead of the season,” he said at the launch of Williams’ FW41.

“I’ve spent a lot of time at the factory, I’m almost living there at the moment which has been great motivation for me and for all of the people around the factory.

“It’s been a big enjoyment to start working properly with all the mechanics and engineers, and it’s going well.

“I’ve been training hard and I’ve been in the simulator regularly, going through different set-ups with the car, different tracks, seat fittings and also a lot of engineering meetings and factory tours to meet everyone.

“I’ve been having fun with all the guys from different departments. It’s busy times, but I am really enjoying it. I’m getting ready for the season in the best possible way.”

Williams defends her ‘just a pay driver’

Date published: February 16 2018

With two pay drivers now racing for Williams, Claire Williams has defended her team’s line-up saying Williams “only put talented drivers in our car.”

Last season Lance Stroll joined Williams with the help of his father’s billions while this year the team has signed Sergey Sirotkin and his reported 15 million in sponsorship as their second driver.

The decision raised eyebrows amongst F1 fans given that Sirotkin beat Robert Kubica, and his dreaming of returning to F1 competition, to the seat.

Williams has defended her line-up.

“Our decision making process is so much more complex than deciding to put a driver in a race car because they have some cash,” said Williams.

“It’s nothing new in Formula One that drivers come with money either and thank goodness that they do.

“I think it is incredibly naive to make the statement: ‘he’s just a pay driver’.

“It’s great if a driver has financial partners, it’s great for the team and the driver. It’s an expensive sport.”

She added: “We would only put talented drivers in our car.

“This a dangerous business and we are not going to put someone in our car just because they come with money.”

Kubica confirms three FP1 outings for Williams

Date published: February 16 2018

Robert Kubica will contest three practice sessions with Williams this season as part of his reserve driver role.

The Polish driver, who lost the race-seat to Sergey Sirotkin, will drive in Spain, Austria and Abu Dhabi.

However, that won’t be his only opportunity to drive the FW41 with the former Renault man also in action during pre-season testing and the in-season outings.

“I will do three FP1s,” he said at the launch of Williams’ 2018 car.

“I will start in Barcelona, then I think Austria and then another one [Abu Dhabi].

“I will do some pre-season testing and in-season testing.

“It was important to have the chance to drive. Currently the regulations are such that driving is limited.

“The simulator plays an important role, as I am part of this project it is important to build up a link between this tool and the real world.”