Despite Reports, Williams F1 Denies Having Signed Robert Kubica
Despite contrasting reports from solid sources, the team tells The Drive pen has not been put to paper.
When Canal reported last week that Robert Kubica had finally signed with Williams, The Drive's contact at Williams formally denied the claim, decrying it as "completely untrue." The story persists, however, and is making its rounds in various permutations throughout the Formula 1 world, with details varying between outlets, the common thread being that all claim Kubica is in like Flynn. Globo Esporte, Diario Motorsport, RTL GP, the hosts of the Autosport podcast, and former team owner Giancarlo Minardi all have their own versions of the story, and The Drive is here to provide roundup and analysis of the stories and their variations.
To start, Globo Esporte describes two major factors in the supposed signing of Kubica: Influence, and money. Former Williams driver and 2016 world champion Nico Rosberg joined Kubica's management team back in September, and is said to have leveraged the team into favoring Robert over his competition for the seat. The addition of an alleged cash influx package of over $9 million USD is said to have helped secure Kubica's place at the team for next season, with two of the team's sponsor contracts expiring postseason.
Diario Motorsport corroborates the signing, and adds a claim that the team is already drilling Robert in the race simulators, to give him as much practice as can be had with modern cars.
RTL GP brings a tale of a two-year contract to the table, and is the first to pin a length claim on the contract story.
Autosport says Kubica and his sponsors bid to get him in the seat for this year's season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix for this upcoming weekend, as a rumor earlier in the year described, but they found themselves $1 million short of convincing the team to swap Massa for Kubica, delaying the latter's apparent return until the postseason Abu Dhabi Pirelli tire test.
Giancarlo Minardi, while he does not discuss the subject of a contract, supports the claim that Kubica will perform the tire test with Williams, which would bode well for his chances at a race seat next season. Kubica's involvement has not been formally confirmed, but Minardi has the distinction of having foretold the McLaren-Renault engine switch a week before it went official.
With Minardi stating Kubica will be performing test duties for the Grove-based team just a week shy of the test, slated to occur over a two day period on the Tuesday and Wednesday following the 2017 season's bookending race, the run up to the event now resembles that of the McLaren-Renault deal. Giancarlo has proven himself one of the most reliable voices in the paddock, so his words carry weight in the story of Kubica's comeback attempt.
The Drive again contacted Williams for remark on the multitude of claims made about the relationship between Kubica and the team.
"It’s all rumour. If we had decided on a driver we would announce it," said a team spokesperson, "the Polish media are going into overdrive but unless we officially announce something it isn’t true."