In a surprise twist, Williams have announced that Sergey Sirotkin will partner Lance Stroll for the 2018 season, the Russian replacing the now-retired Felipe Massa. Robert Kubica, the man many considered to be a given for the available second drive, has been announced as the team's reserve driver for the upcoming season.
The decision not to make Kubica a main driver has caused a storm across social media. Many have accused Williams of choosing money over quality; whilst Sorotkin is a talented young driver, he also brings with him substantial Russian sponsorship money. The BBC reports that Sirotkin has £15m backing that he will bring to Williams
However, Williams have insisted that Sirotkin was selected based entirely on testing performances. The Russian and Kubica tested several times for Williams last season, and whilst most of the press attention surrounded the latter's first drive in an F1 car for almost a decade, it was Sirotkin who impressed the Williams team more with his technical knowledge and raw pace.
Nonetheless, the fact that Kubica has earned a place in Formula One following his horrific rally crash in 2011 is testament to his skill and determination. Once upon a time, the Pole was regarded as a prestigious talent, alongside Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso. A champion in the making, his astonishing crash at the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix where he miraculously walked away relatively unscathed, and then the subsequent rally crash which left him with a partially paralysed left arm, curtailed his career and left many fans pondering 'what coulda been?'
At the age of 33, Kubica is nearing the home straight of his career and will be focused on securing a main drive for 2019, at Williams or otherwise.