Williams technical chief Paddy Lowe accepts the emotion surrounding the potential Robert Kubica’s selection as part of its 2018 Formula 1 driver line-up but says the British team will take an objective decision after the Abu Dhabi test.
Kubica is taking part in the post-season Abu Dhabi Pirelli tyre test with Williams to be assessed for a full-time return to F1 in 2018. The Polish driver took to the Yas Marina circuit during the morning of the opening day of the test and completed over 50 laps with a best time of 1m 41.296s to go seventh fastest on the timesheet – albeit not hunting an outright fast lap time.
Williams is assessing Kubica’s fitness as he aims to comeback from his rallying crash in 2011 in which he suffered a partially severed right forearm. Kubica has completed two tests for Williams in a 2014-specifciation car but the Abu Dhabi test marks his debut in the FW40 – but he has tested Renault’s 2017 car at the Hungary in-season test.
While the British squad has ruled out making an immediate decision on the Polish driver at the test, Lowe says Williams is after a ‘team player’ who can contribute at all levels to the team.
“There are all sorts of driver aspects that are important but we wouldn’t consider a driver who isn’t a team player, it is as simple as that,” Lowe said on Saturday. “The decision won’t be this week but sometime after that. It is important to be objective with what we do. A lot of people do say how great it would be if Robert was back in Formula 1 in 2018 so we’ll see.
“Robert is an impressive guy and we all saw how he operated in Formula 1 in the past. He is a great driver who is a professional, very committed, very intelligent. It is an exciting prospect which is why we’re looking at him.
“We’re in a process with Robert which is a matter of evaluating whether his injuries will have an impact on his ability to drive in Formula 1. He will do a normal programme and a normal process we will be able to answer those questions.”
Lowe also confirmed Kubica had impressed during his tests in the 2014-specification car but this test will prove a key comparison against other candidates for the Williams drive in 2018.
Kubica is thought to be battling against Sergey Sirotkin, Paul di Resta, Pascal Wehrlein and Daniil Kvyat for the F1 race seat alongside Lance Stroll.
“So far it has been fine when we ran him in the 2014 car and there were no issues,” he said. “We are seeing how he goes this week and then we’ll make our assessment. There are other drivers that are still under consideration but we know how they perform because they’ve been racing and we have a lot of race data.
“Sirotkin is somebody we haven’t done any work with before so he is a new prospect we’re looking at and we’ll see where that takes us, short term or longer term. He’s an interesting driver who we like and we were talking to his management as well.”
Kubica is expected to complete a normal test programme on Tuesday morning before returning to track action on Wednesday afternoon, with Stroll in action on Tuesday afternoon and Sirotkin in the car on Wednesday morning.