Written by Grant Rivers (@SnowAndBeach)
Following Felipe Massa’s second retirement in two years, Williams were left in the luxurious position of having the last empty seat available for 2018. Robert Kubica, Paul DiResta & Sergey Sirotkin were all in contention for the seat but Williams chose Sirotkin with Kubica having to settle for a Reserve Driver role.
Following months of analysis, which Chief Technical Officer Paddy Lowe said was the most in-depth analysis for a driver line up he had witnessed in his career to date, a decision was finally made to give Sergey Sirotkin the final Williams race seat for 2018.
Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams believes Sergey Sirotkin is going to surprise a lot of people this year in his rookie season in Formula 1. She also firmly dismissed claims that Sirotkin is a paid driver – despite bringing almost £13 million in sponsorship money – stating that almost all drivers in this modern era bring with them comparable sums of sponsorship.
Since the beginning of the V6 era Williams have yet to finish outside of the Top 5 in the Constructors Championship. However, despite securing 5th position in each of the last two seasons, the pressure is beginning to mount on the Groove based outfit. They have been cut adrift from the Big Three, were convincingly beaten by Force India and sixth placed Renault finished the season with the quicker car of the two.
Despite the Williams’ 2018 car looking a clear step forward, the 2018 season promises to be an incredibly challenging one for Formula One’s old independent outfit. Renault look set to continue their upturn in form as Renault continue to invest heavily in their workforce and facilities. McLaren, fresh from ditching their troublesome Honda Power Unit, look set to mount an assault on the Championship Table with the latest Renault Power Unit in the back.
Williams will be determined to at least maintain their run of four consecutive years in Formula One’s top five teams but the teams in and around them will equally determined to ensure that Williams end the 2018 season disappointed.