Williams put off F1 driver announcement

Dec 16, 2017 - 1:12 AM Formula One team Williams have put off until the New Year an announcement on who will partner Canadian teenager Lance Stroll next season.

A team spokeswoman confirmed no driver news was planned before January, with the 21-race 2018 season due to start in Australia on March 25.

Russian Sergey Sirotkin appears favourite for the drive, the only remaining vacancy on the starting grid, rather than Poland's comeback hopeful Robert Kubica.

Williams have said their decision would be based on performance and have given few hints about who is likely to succeed now retired Brazilian Felipe Massa at the former champions.

Sirotkin, a 22-year-old development driver for the Renault team this year, has been backed by Russian billionaire Boris Rotenberg and his SMP Racing.

Rotenberg's brother Arkady is a close ally and former judo partner of President Vladimir Putin.

Leaving aside his significant backing, the Russian impressed in post-season testing in Abu Dhabi after he was passed over by Renault when that team were looking to replace Britain's Jolyon Palmer.

Both he and Kubica, 33, were at the factory last week for debriefs and further assessment, with media reports suggesting Russian Daniil Kvyat was also in the frame after being dropped by Red Bull and Toro Rosso.

Russia, which pays handsomely for the right to host a grand prix in Sochi, currently has no Formula One driver contracted to race next year.

Source: AAP

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