The Williams situation

So, as we head into the Christmas holiday, I am going to stop writing news, not that there has been much, and I may also stop the Fascinating Fact series for a few days, if I need some time off. The plan is to go on until I reach 100, which would be the end of February if I do one every day, so there is some leeway for a few days off along the way.

However, the one big question about 2018 is who will drive the second (or first) Williams-Mercedes. This is an interesting situation with a lot of muddying of water going on at the moment. The word is that Robert Kubica was not convincingly fast in the Abu Dhabi test, but other sources say that this line is being fed out deliberately, so that Williams can avoid the accusation that they are going to choose a driver because of money, rather than ability.

What is clear is that Williams needs money, and the more the better, as Paddy Lowe, the team’s new chief technical officer, has things he wants to invest in, and (probably) a few more people he would like to hire. Williams is always a company that has tried to lead with engineering because this means that if the team builds a winning car, the price of the drivers will come down because fast drivers always want to drive the fastest cars. This is why the team has often fallen out with its World Champions in the past because they ask for more money than Williams is willing to pay. The key to success is building a fast car and Williams has not been very good at that in the modern era, although its last victory in Spain in 2012 was achieved by the mercurial Pastor Maldonado, a monster pay-driver.

In 2014, 2015 and 2016 the team had sufficient cash to run drivers it wanted: Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas. In the first year that was helped by a settlement on the PDVSA contract because Maldonado wanted to go to Lotus instead (a disastrous decision). Last year the coffers were boosted by a similar thing, as Mercedes had to agree to pay certains things, or reduce engine bills, in order to get Williams to release Valtteri Bottas. In 2015 and 2016 the team had more money because it did better in the Constructors’ Championship in the previous seasons, with third places each year, dropping to fifth in 2016 and 2017. This cost the team about $10 million per year in prize money. The arrival of Lance Stroll was helpful because he brought a pile of money with him, in exchange for which Williams is believed to have provided space on the car which the Strolls could use to recoup the investment. That deal is believed to have reduced in 2018. Nonetheless, Williams still needs cash if it is to have the development programme it requires to close the gap to the super-big teams, which of course get far more money from the Formula One pot. Williams may get an annual heritage payment of $10 million, but that is nothing compared to the loot that Ferrari, Mercedes, Red Bull and McLaren are being paid, above and beyond the basic prize fund. If you don’t have money, you have to be cleverer and Lowe hopes that with aerodynamic boss Dirk de Beer, from Ferrari, and new vehicle dynamics chief Barney Hassell, from McLaren, the FW41 will be a much better car and will enable Williams to take the fight to Force India and defend against the likely onslaughts from McLaren-Renault, and indeed Renault Sport Racing itself.

Robert Kubica looked like the perfect candidate with rumours that he had as much as $11 million in backing from a Polish chain of convenience stores, and an energy company. This seemed rather odd given his struggles in the past to find cash in his home country, but sources suggest that this is not really a Polish deal, but rather one involving CVC Capital Partners, the former owners of the Formula One group, who have sold up and gone but who still understand the value of F1 as a means of delivering a message.

What’s interesting is that CVC has two investments at the moment in Poland: Zabka, a chain of Polish convenience stores, which were acquired earlier this year and, you guessed it, an energy company called PKP Energetyka, acquired in 2015. This distributes electricity to the country’s railway system and to other businesses. It provides maintenance for the railway network and operates fuel stations for diesel locomotives, while also reselling electricity and gas.

The problem is that Sergey Sirotkin, who needs to be racing in 2018 and not being a reserve driver again, is rumoured to have come up with $22 million from his regular backer SMP Bank, and he did a decent job in the recent testing. There is no doubt that this money will actually arrive (which is not the case with all Russians deals in F1 history) but there is a question about whether Williams (and its other sponsors) want the association with SMP. The bank is owned by Boris and Arkady Rotenberg, oligarchs who are close associates and old friends of none other than Vladimir Putin.

The bad news is that the bank is on the list of sanctioned Russians firms, resulting from the Ukraine Crisis in 2014. However, it is not quite that simple as SMP is only black-listed in the United States and Canada, but is not on the EU list. The Rotenberg brothers are also listed by they appear on different lists as well. The current pause in negotiations is probably to provide Kubica to see if any more money can be found to support his candidature. Both Zakba and PKP Energetyka are companies with multi-billion dollar annual revenues so perhaps they can find some more…

99 thoughts on “The Williams situation

  1. Hi Joe,
    Regardless of how much money Williams get from their drivers, I just can’t see a Stroll-Sirotkin lineup in any circumstance beating a Hulk-Sainz, Perez-Ocon lineup. Does this not concern the Williams engineers?

  2. I wonder if the hiatus is due to Williams wanting to future proof Russian money against further sanctions by wanting the money up front?

    1. Arkady Rotenberg is on the EU list of sanctioned people (Wikipedia) so it seems Williams won’t be getting much from Sirotkin..

  3. Thank you for the heads up on where Williams is at right now. I sure hope (probably just like many at Williams!) that some more backers can be found to make the difference to the russian money less enormous.

    I am sure that the team, and the sport, would fare a lot better with credible sponsors instead of the Rotenberg’s connection. And off course a Kubica comeback would be great PR. CVC certainly know the value of what the sport can bring for brands.

    Also, enjoy your holidays and we will all be looking forward to as many fascinating facts as you can fit in between.

  4. Really a shame that Wehrlien is out of the running. He’s scored points in bad cars, so I’m sure he could get some results at Williams.

      1. Micke – there are suggestions from several quarters that Ericsson was receiving preferential treatment at the team after the takeover was completed. Wehrlein refused to refute those suggestions.

        1. So Mercedes paid millions for Wehrlein’s drive but accepted that the other driver got preferential treatment? And then ended his F1 career? Maybe, but more likely he was a disappointment to them.

          Also, which ”quarters” are you refering to?

      2. He probably should have out-performed fellow rookies Harayanto and Ocon back in the Manor days.

        I still chuckle when I think of Joe’s immortal line about him searching the Brazilian fields for his socks which Ocon had blown off.

        Lest anyone’s forgotten, the sodden 2016 Brazilian GP which Verstappen also starred in…

  5. Kubica – the pay driver! What a crazy world. There is one other individual who has Frank Williams, V. Putin, CVC, and Liberty on speed dial and who recently publicly stated that Williams would be mad not to sign Kubica. That was the point I started to worry.

  6. Assuming Kubica’s pace was relatively ok compared to Sirotkin, I’d have thought his car development skill, ability to drive/motivate the team and that he won’t go through as many front wings and bits of suspension would potentially make up a place in the constructors and the $10 million shortfall.

    One wonders how many years stroll will be paying $20-30 million for to be beaten by his teammate and if they get bored of Williams, which other teams would take him.

    1. Word on the street is that Kubica’s time (after fuel/tyre compound adjustment was factored in), was below par…compared to Stroll.

        1. Why did they test Kubica, then, if they didn’t want to hire him even if he was quick? Did Sirotkin up his cash offer late in the day?

    2. “I’d have thought his car development skill, ability to drive/motivate the team and that he won’t go through as many front wings”

      I suspect that driver skill has much less impact on car development these days because of the sophistication of the instrumentation used in track testing and of the computer modelling. Even if a driver is a bit inconsistent, by running multiple laps, engineers will still be able to compare the effect of changes to the car.

      As far as motivation goes, professional engineers shouldn’t need a driver to help them find motivation, that should come from the technical challenge of the job. However, drivers or managers would probably have a big effect on demotivation if they are constantly criticizing the engineering team and making people nervous about job security.

      1. I’m only half way through Adrian Newey’s book and back quite some years, but it is notable that the wind tunnel requires computer correction to bring it to actuality. There have, of course, been several instances much more recently, Ferrari etc of non consistency.
        At Silverstone, also some years ago, Ayrton Senna came in complaining of loss of power and they changed his engine. Later it was stated that one cam was slightly rounded which I suspect was a nice story. Same session, Michael Andretti complained of handling problems, nothing showed on the telemetry so it was dismissed. It was later found there was a frozen rear damper.
        It is the driver’s opinion and the stopwatch that ultimately are important not what the instruments might say.
        Very many years ago Jim Hurtubise blanked all of his instruments at Indy and wrote on the card “don’t confuse me with facts” !
        Also a while ago our principal test driver was sent out to MIRA to do performance testing with an engine deliberately 10% down on power. His subsequent report made no mention of any deficit.

        1. “Don’t confuse me with facts” was the stated opinion of Michael Gove (and probably others!) in the Brexit debate! And look where that is leading to!!

          1. There was a picture, I think in Motor Racing at the time, of Hurtubise’s Offy. The commentary also said he consistently ran to within 6″ of the walls !

        2. @Richard Piers – advancements in telemetry are giving engineers massive amounts of information, in real time, that they are able to tell the driver he’s losing time on specific corners or even taking too long to move his foot from throttle to brake. The days of racing with duff suspension are long past. Allegedly.

          From what we are allowed to hear, race engineers spend a massive amount of time massaging driver’s egos. I doubt that has changed since the very first car race.

          A merry Christmas to Joe and all your blog readers.

        3. You have some anecdotes from before modern telemetry and computer modelling were developed. The tools available now are orders of magnitude more powerful than what was available back in Senna’s day.

          A driver setting a fast time or reporting that the car feels better or worse is of zero value to engineers unless they understand exactly why. They need to understand how each individual component behaves and how the different components and systems interact. The telemetry data and engineers are much more important than the driver in understanding and developing the car. Williams clearly need to improve their engineering department before there’s any benefit in paying for a top level driver.

          1. Which is sadly why they often have so much trouble dealing with “Divas”, suiting a car to its driver and disappearing down blind alleys. Oftentimes there is information overload and it is forgotten that it is the little fellow holding the steering wheel that has to get to the finish line first.
            I qualified my comments and understand the greatly increased sophistication of modern systems. I have a son whose job is to coordinate the various experts on major projects and a son in law who designs some of the most complex systems known. Both wonder at the experts lack of appreciation of each others expertise and agree that very few of the end users have any understanding of the technology at all.
            Notable that Adrian Newey, the most successful modern designer, is famous for still using pencil and paper.

        4. “don’t confuse me with facts” reminds me of my fathers rally cars (from the 60’s & 70’s) … he never fitted a tacho, “I know I’m over-revving it – I don’t need some gauge to tell me”

    3. The Renault engineers were impressed with Sirotkin’s level of understanding despite his tender age. You’d expect Kubica to bring a bit more leadership and direction, but Sirotkin is unlikely to leave them wanting for feedback and input.

  7. Is there any chance that the terms of Kubica’s insurance payout mean they would delay announcing if they were going to sign him?

  8. What a sad state of affairs for this legendary team. If they run two journeymen with cash how long before a brain drain of real racers in the team starts? A difficult conundrum Option A ) a healthy bank account for 2018 and likely decline in status B) less money, a hot shoe and less development . No easy answer…..

  9. Difficult times. Lowe himself is a major investment for Williams and needs to deliver, which will not be easy to measure if there is no reliable driver benchmark. Stroll has been inconsistent and rarely quicker than a fading Massa, Sirotkin is unknown; and the teams likely to be the main competition for Williams next year have very strong pairings, one including the mighty Alonso. Incidentally, I met Sirotkin a couple of years ago and was struck by his height, which is more than the average racing driver, and was wondering how this might interact with the halo.

    Then there is Mercedes. Already, perhaps, disappointed that neither Wehrlein (surely the best overall candidate and, potentially, a long-term solution) nor di Resta are in the frame, and conscious their other great hope is at Force India, how will the car giant feel about being associated with blacklisted Russians, particularly in the highly protectionist US market?

    And finally the Strolls. If SMP is blacklisted in Canada, would this not be a concern for them?

    I know one has to survive to make it to the future but I can’t help feel this has been badly handled.

    The best article I’ve seen on this subject, Joe. From a personal perspective, my head has said Wehrlein all along but I cannot deny I’d love to see Kubica back. As an armchair enthusiast, all I feel coming with either Sirotkin or Kvyat are questions of what might have been.

  10. Joe what have mercedes seen or perceived that is precluding (at this moment Wehrlein?) and on the subject of Maldonado when he won his GP he looked supreme not a foot wrong, you have seen him race and majority havent, what is your view on him.
    The whole pay driver thing is laughable in any case, in 1987 the Marquess of Bute purchased a drive alongside senna didnt he? So its always gone on

      1. Having some time at an airport I looked at some footage of Dumfries in the lotus at Adelaide and you are right Joe, he looked pretty handy in the lotus, and dont we forget what a nice track Adelaide was a well, although in the you tube clip a beatrice haas passed him, must have been tambay!

          1. We forget that time served journalists work there way up the formulae as well as drivers! So another question if I may Joe, I was 11 in 1987 and read about this bloke Thomas danielsson winning everything in FF and F3 and then I remember he got to F3000 and disappeared!! Do you remember him and If so what happened?

            1. He temporarily lost his racing license in 1988 because of stereoblindness. Came back but couldn’t raise the 2-3 million (those were the days…) USD he needed to get a seat in F1. Ended up racing in Japan where I belive he did pretty well.

    1. The infamous ‘Derek Warwick kept out of Lotus’ by Senna in 1986. The consternation amongst many in the British press changed their respective associations with the Brazilian but ultimately Senna feared nobody, as evidenced by his joining Prost’s McLaren team for 1988.

      He just knew that Lotus couldn’t run two front running cars equally and felt Warwick’s participation would have affected both cars.

      JPS wanted a British driver hence Dumfries being signed.

      Dumfries was 1984 British F3 champion and had also been a test driver for Ferrari in 1985, before test drivers were in vogue. A very good talent

  11. As an old “comrade in arms ” of Franks I should very much like to see Williams once again performing competitively. I have always though some of their decisions were short sighted when parting with their “winners”. For sure Stroll is not in that category, Sirotkin I don’t know but very much doubt it, but believe that Kubica has shown enough to indicate that with a bit more de-rusting he will be right there. In the short term his presence would bring a huge amount of kudos and everything that comes with that. A substantial marketing tool. I cannot forget the overhead shots of him besting Monaco that for me were right there with the best of Senna.
    In the meantime thank you for all of your year’s brilliant reporting, these brilliant snapshots, for tolerating my second rate contributions to your other contributors who add their interesting addendums and hope you and family have wonderful fetes fin d’annees.

  12. I thought the story was Williams needed a driver over 25 for the Martini sponsorship. Sirotkin is 22, Stroll is younger. Did that change?

  13. Excellent analysis and I agree entirely! It seems likely last week’s media stories that Sirotkin was favourite were fed out precisely to give the Kubica tree another shake to see what Christmas presents dropped out.

    Let’s hope Kubica’s backers dig deep and we get the good news story of a comeback against the odds. Hopefully someone sees the bigger picture of the potential upside to the F1 pot should Robert be successful in a 2018 car. Stories like that are what swells the size of the overall pie, so Liberty should pull some strings to help make it happen, just as Bernie worked behind the scenes to realise Kimi’s comeback.

  14. Fascinating as usual Joe.

    Can you comment on the current state of health with Frank? Sadly ironic that a man who suffered catastrophic injuries leaving him a paraplegic, albeit i understand the longest surviving one, should outlive his wife.

  15. I would not write Stroll off as some doomed pay driver. He did OK for a rookie, certainly was not destroyed by Massa. The podium might have been lucky, but one needs a bit of luck too. Stroll won championships in lower categories and may yet prove to be pretty good in F1 as well. If money was not the primary consideration, I would argue that Kvyat would be the best option for the other Williams…but that is not going to happen. I wonder whether Williams still require each of their drivers to pass their in-house written test, or if other priorities pushed this out of the equation?

    1. The worry with Stroll is his dad is just slightly richer than Max Chilton’s so could afford better equipment. I worry about Lando Norris for the same reason. Successful, but has never wanted for anything. Very few get into F1 through grit and determination alone these days.

      The cream however does rise in the end.

      Look at the top drivers. Max (dad is a great mentor with contacts) aside – Kimi, Fernando, Lewis, Seb and Daniel at least got there without family money.

      I can’t think of a successful driver who brought their first drive without a bank loan or create management.

        1. He started out with the same backing Wesley Graves had, but Wesley didn’t make anything of it and Lewis did. I recall, though, a lot of people thinking McLaren saw something in Wesley they did not.

  16. Completely off topic, but I have no idea where else to leave this question. Are you currently writing another book? I really enjoyed the other two . . . meticulous research and immaculate writing.

  17. Didn’t the ‘annual heritage payment’ that team Willy receive only come about when BE connived with FW to shaft Adam Parr of his position……?

  18. It’s a shame that Werhlein is no longer being mentioned. I would have thought that Williams need to move forward immediately in the championship and and Werhlein is the best option in terms of experience of current cars. I wonder what Mercedes were willing to put towards that option?

    1. Surely there’s more to the Wehrlein story than what we’ve been told so far. My guess is that he is ‘difficult ‘ to work with. I’m sure the truth will be revealed eventually.

  19. Joe,

    Thanks for another great year of reporting, F1FF, and the podcasts now with Missed Apex, which are highly entertaining. Enjoy your Christmas break.


  20. The question I ask is what does Daddy Stroll think, and what input does he have?

    Lets face it, if Lance Stroll is beaten by a guy with a severe hand injury making a comeback after 7 years his career isn’t going to go much further than Williams. The same if he was to be partnered by a DiResta, Kvyat or Wehrlein next year. I’d also say his career would be as good as cooked if he got beaten by Felipe two seasons in a row…..

    The Strolls will be pushing for Sirotkin as he is the only one Lance “solid 8.5” Stroll has a chance of beating next year, only due to his lack of experience compared to Lance.

    The reality is for Daddy, and this is probably one of the first times in his life that money won’t get him what he wants, but his kid is only so good.

    As you put it:

    Hamilton > Bottas
    Bottas > Massa
    Massa > Stroll

    Therefore Lance Stroll isn’t the next Hamilton, Bottas or Massa, so why bother?

    1. Personally I think Sirotkin will beat Stroll if they race together next year. Sirotkin is good and looks entirely ready to step up to a race drive in F1. Lance came into F1 way too soon and while he looked to be settling nicely mid-season, his dreadful showings in the last two races demonstrate how much he still has to learn.

      1. I agree that Lance came into F1 too soon and I don’t think that the fact that Felipe, with all his years of experience, was quicker is conclusive evidence about Lance’s potential. Let’s see how he gets on over the next year or two.

    2. Wow you can tell a lot about a driver after one season.

      Kimi Raikkonen has had a fairly decent career I think that’s fairly easy to agree upon…

      yet he was beaten by Nick Heidfeld in his first season…

      scored roughly half as many points as David Coulthard in his second season…

      and came to within two points of beating Michael Schmacher to the championship in his third season…

      Yet after year one you would have said ‘Look Kimi it’s like this…

      Senna > Hakkinen

      Hakkinen > Coulthard

      Coulthard > Raikkonen

      You’ll never be the next Senna, Hakkinen or Coulthard, so why bother?’

      I can probably imagine how Kimi would describe your logic.

      1. Kimi would likely respond the same way I am and say thats such a poor comparison.

        Of the 10 races Raikkonen finished in 2001, the lowest he finished was tenth.
        Of the 16 races Stroll finished in 2017, nine of them were outside the top 10.

        Sauber finished 4th in 2001, Williams 5th in 2017, so fairly comparable. Both drivers had a top 10 car, yet if he did finish, Stroll would more than likely not finish in the top 10, unlike Kimi.

        The difference between the two results wise I’d put down solely to talent.

  21. Williams had no problem with effectively state money from Venezuela and I can’t see that Russian money is any worse. As for Kubica if he is as good as his many supporters say why on earth would he want to demean himself by becoming a pay driver? It’s all so sordid at Williams these days!

  22. Just wondering, why do Red Bull get more in the “Heritage” payment than Williams? Is it strictly because they have won championships recently? Obviously Williams have a lot more true F1 heritage than RB

  23. If the “other” Russian can bring a sack of money from his country like certain Spanish F1 drivers seems to be able to do, then cash-search Williams could decide to take on the driver who has a point to make to his previous employer. That is massive motivation. He clearly has the talent to prove it too. I wonder if D. Kvyat is high on Claire’s Driver shopping list. She and her team could do worse, both from the talent and financial viewpoints.

    Yes, Kvyat’s had his “moments” on track with team mates and others but so too have “Not me Gov”Hamilton, new “wonder kid” Verstappen and Sainz etc but, unlike them who invariably have had a blind eye turned towards their exploits, laughingly Kvyat, far from justified in my opinion, is seen as the “Dick Dastardly” of the F1 tracks particularly in UK F1 media circles.

    Be interesting to see who is in the Team Williams F1 driver line up come the New Year. Bet they get it wrong … hope I’m proven wrong about that. Calire’s team a due a change of luck for the better. Hope it comes to pass.

    1. To succeed in F1 you have not only to be a brilliant driver but also very hard/tough. Williams may be slightly less demanding now than when Patrick Head was in the pits but I think they still don’t believe in massaging their driver’s egos. Poor Kvyatt was damned by the perfidious Marko and never recovered, now Marko’s playing the same silly game with Gasly and Hartley.
      We used to call it management by mushroom ” keep everyone in the dark and throw s*** on them twice a year”

  24. Joe, would it be fair to say that there are several factions inside Williams that are trying to get their preferred driver into the seat and that is why journalists have been given contradictory versions of events?

  25. What remains of Williams charisma as a racing team is really withering away amidst this rather unsavory spectacle. If they ultimately sign Sirotkin, it will be permanently destroyed. They had best choose wisely…

    1. What if chasing the money for the next year or two is what it takes to bring up the facilities and recruitment back up to race winning standard, and underpin the team’s competitive future?

  26. Thanks for all the great material Joe!! As a newly obsessed fan of Formula 1, your blog and Missed Apex appearances have been much appreciated. I look forward to following your continued work and catching up on your previous material. Enjoy the holiday, you deserve it!

    Also, in case you read this… odds the US Grand Prix returns to Indianapolis anytime soon? I grew up there (only about 20 minutes drive from the track) but as a new fan, sadly I missed out on the run from 00-07, so would love to see the return.

  27. Thanks Joe. Long awaited piece of informed gossip.

    How much of this is Williams needing an escape / performance clause?

    Something like new driver has to outperform Stroll by x before the summer break. Unless Stroll always make it to Q3. If not, new driver will leave by the summer break without getting his sponsorship returned. I know it has to written in perfect corporate legalese.

    Both Kubica and Sirotkin are major wildcards who could need to be replaced due to lack of performance. So I think the real problem at Williams is taking and keeping the money and being able to sack the driver if they don’t perform.

    I think Williams and Renault this year showed that you might be able to have one weak driver- but you can’t really afford to have two.

  28. Clearly things are more complex than they immediately appear (aren’t they always?) It sounds to me like Williams know Sirotkin could do a job but Kubica isn’t so far ahead that they can ignore the funding gap.

    1. For an extra £8.2 I think, unfortunately the performance gap would have to be massive for it to be overlooked. To put that figure into context according to the Telegraph Adrian Newey’s salary is roughly that amount.

      In a hypothetical world, if you were a team boss and you had a choice between;

      Sergey Sirotkin + Adrian Newey + £1m
      Robert Kubica + Nothing

      I know what I would choose (as much as it pains me to say it).

      Don’t get me wrong, Newey isn’t suddenly going to become available, however Lowe is a smart cookie and no doubt has reckons he can turn that extra cash into long-term performance gains.

      With new regulations around the corner that has to be where the smart money goes.

  29. Great feature. Leaving Kubica’s ability aside, it’s a great shame for Williams to end up with one pay driver already signed and a bunch of others knocking at their door. For literally hundreds of people fighting to put another hundred of a second per lap on the table it’s just a giant demotivating slap. A decent driver could bring half a second improvement with ease. And yet the team that wants to be the best of the rest can’t hire any!

  30. I have nothing against Williams using its drivers to rake in the cash, it even has a nice symmetry to it that they are in that position (in part) due to CVC’s lopsided accounting practices when they were at the helm and then there to write the cheques when they are at the other end of the tiller.

    What I can’t stomach so much is Williams putting out misinformation about Kubica’s performance at the test.

    Nobody held it against Renault that they took another candidate, people generally understand that driver choice is based on a number of factors – most of which are kept under wraps – so why not just keep it that way instead of scuppering any future (albeit, admittedly remote) chances Kubica may have had in the future.

    Shame on them (if indeed that is what has transpired).

    1. > Nobody held it against Renault that they took another candidate

      Well, maybe that’s because they rate Sainz & so they assume that it was a performance call?

      1. The situation at Renault was completely different…management were pursuing Sainz before the initial Kubica test (which was more a courtesy, than a performance trial) ever happened. Kubica suddenly becoming a legitimate candidate was an very interesting ‘complication’…but Renault decided to continue with plan-A (Sainz.) Option B undoubtedly required more data. Wanting to sign a young talent (that is fast and ~proven) makes sense as a pairing with the veteran Hulkenberg – and weakening TorroRosso in the process was an added sweetener. Kubica was never ‘rejected’, nor was his contract with the team terminated – this happened at Robert’s behest due to interest with other parties.

  31. I’ve read elsewhere Kubica’s team has come up with £7m for the first 7 races which would perhaps nullify what Sirotkin can offer. Do you know if there is any truth in this?
    P.S. just to go against the grain, I think Maldonado was a decent quick driver who did actually deserve his seat, he just happened to bring a boatload of money and was forever tarnished by this a few minor scrapes he got into…

  32. Williams is a team you can respect but doesn’t mean you have to like them. All the greed and grasping has cost them over the years and they still dont learn.
    Their 10 million heritage payment is very low and seems due to jumping in first and grabbing anything they could get.
    They need an intelligent mature driver to push the car in the right direction but instead will probably end up with a couple of clueless kids.
    I dont see why Kubica should be scraping cash together to drive for this lot as the only focus they have is in perfection of a mechanical prossess like quick tyre changes.
    Any future non peformance would get blamed on him like they seem to have tried on Massa who is well out of there.

  33. I agree. Apart from being a racing team, Williams is a business and they have a responsibility for the livelihood of their employees. What Williams really need is to pull in as many sponsors as they can to give them the cash to compete technically with the factory teams. Or for a manufacturer to come in and support them. Sadly in this day and age, without massive funding it doesn’t matter how smart your engineers are it’s simply not possible to match the bigger spending teams.

      1. Indeed Williams require more money but sadly it isn’t available from potential sponsors. Thus they have to field pay driver(s) to make up funding deficiencies.
        Enjoy your holidays Mr. Saward and look forward to reading your tidbits this coming New Year.

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