Williams F1 Racing Team Delays 2018 Driver Decision and Muddies the Water
Polish media proclaims Kubica the chosen one, but developments on the driver market look equal parts promising and troubling for the Pole.
In October, Polish media were all but ready to coronate Robert Kubica as the man to represent their country in Formula 1 next year, alleging that the Williams team's decision on who was to occupy the race seat alongside Lance Stroll had already been decided, in Kubica's favor.
Recent reports from Formula 1 journalists Mark Hughes and Albert Fabrega tell a different story, though, claiming that Williams will not make its decision until after the season ends in Abu Dhabi. Fabrega also reports that Williams has not yet filed for an FIA Super License for Kubica, and to make things trickier for the Pole, the team confirmed to Reuters last week that the driver age deal with title sponsor Martini is less rigid than previously thought, allowing for the possibility of a second driver younger than 25.
This would allow Pascal Wehrlein, previously thought disqualified by Martini's age limitations, a shot at the Williams seat next season.
Current Williams race driver Felipe Massa continues to question the viability of his presumed closest competitors, Kubica and di Resta, citing a disbelief that Kubica's injuries do not impact his driving, and pointing to di Resta's inconsistent results in DTM. Massa insists that he remains the best option for the team come 2018.
Motorsport Total paints a conflicting picture of the situation inside Williams, claiming not only that Massa and Wehrlein are both all but out of the running for 2018, but also that Kubica's performance in Renault's tests did not live up to the hype. Double whammy for Wehrlein, who is reported by Blick to have been dropped from Sauber for 2018, in favor of promising Ferrari junior Charles Leclerc.
Another challenger is said to have appeared in the Williams seat arena, too: Daniil Kvyat. After being dropped from Toro Rosso, it was starting to look like Kyat's Formula 1 career was over, but both Motorsport Total and Auto Motor und Sport claim that Williams is interested in the despondent, but talented Russian driver. Paddy Lowe spoke with Kvyat in Austin during the USGP weekend, and commented favorably on Kyat's potential value to Williams, calling him "a very respectable driver," one who "should be considered," according to Motorsport Total.
If the various news is to be believed, only Kubica, Ericsson, di Resta, and Kvyat stand a chance next year. Ericsson's consistent lack of performance throughout his career, however, makes for unfavorable odds to bet on.
The Drive reached out to Williams regarding the team's ongoing driver decisions, and a spokesperson described the Kvyat link and alleged post-Abu Dhabi decision as "pure speculation."