Orlen, the Polish petrochemical company that provide funding to the Williams F1 team by way of sponsorship in exchange (in part) for the team giving Robert Kubica a 2019 race seat have said that they intend to find out why their man was retired from the Russian Grand Prix, and ascertain whether or not the team are in breach of any of their contractual obligations.
Following an issue with George Russell‘s car that resulted in the Briton nestling his Williams firmly in the barriers under the VSC, Williams decided to retire team-mate Kubica.
Whilst many onlookers assumed that this was a precautionary measure to remove any risk of the same fate befalling Kubica, Williams’ official explanation was that they made the decision ‘in order to conserve parts ahead of the intense flyaway races which end the season.‘
This reasoning has prompted Joanna Zakrzewska, Orlen’s press officer to Tweet:
“In connection with the withdrawal of Robert Kubica from Sunday’s race as part of the Russian Grand Prix, we have officially asked the ROKiT Williams Racing team for clarification.”
“Based on them, we will take actions related to the enforcement of contractual obligations.”
Now, if I was a big cheese at Orlen, and I was fronting £20 million or so to associate my company with one of Poland’s biggest sports stars, and he was retired from an event by his team for no obvious reason then I’d want answers.
However, on the flip side of that, if I was a big cheese at Williams F1, and I was taking £20 million or so in exchange for giving a driver a seat in one of my cars, I’d make bloody sure that there was something written into our contract that makes it explicit that the £20 million doesn’t allow said company to interfere in race strategy or the management of team affairs.
And the decision to strategically retire one of their cars falls into that category.
So while Orlen might not be delighted at how this season has progressed (which of us are??) and I think they’re quite entitled to voice their displeasure, that’s very unlikely to translate into a breach of contract.
Williams’ season has gone a little bit messy in recent weeks hasn’t it?