Williams has announced Israeli driver Roy Nissany will be their official test driver driver for the 2020 Formula 1 season.
Along with a rookie test day and sim work, Nissany will take the wheel of a Williams FW43 in three FP1s over the course of the season.
Nissany will become only the second person from Israel to take part in an official Formula 1 session in 2020 when he emulates his father Chanoch who drove for Minardi in free practice at the 2005 Hungarian Grand Prix (he was just the 13 seconds off the pace!)
His first taste of a Williams was in 2019’s post-season Abu Dhabi test, which suggested he might be in line for a more substantial Williams role in future.
“This is a landmark for motorsport in Israel. When I tested for the team in Abu Dhabi in December, I instantly felt comfortable in the car and part of the team.” said Nissany.
“The experience that I will gain this year, immersing myself with Williams will prove invaluable and I’m looking forward to getting started, both on and off the track.”
NIssany’s last competitive outing as a driver was in the Formula 2 race that supported the 2018 Italian Grand Prix, where he finished 15th, ending the season 22nd and last of all the ‘full-time’ drivers, Williams’ 2020 line-up effectively book-ending the championship with George Russell taking the title.
Why Williams chose Nissany
If you’re asking yourself why Williams would choose a driver with an uninspiring racing record who sat out the 2019 season in its entirety, then you need look no further than the financial package from the state of Israel that he brings with him. The Israel Start Up logo will appear on the car whenever Roy is driving.
A number of key sponsors departed Williams with the closing of 2019, the team’s prize money dipped as a result of its recent poor form and 2020 promises to be its most costly on record with the requirement to not only develop the 2020 car so that the team can keep pace with rivals it trailed last season, but also a brand new car with a completely different spec for 2021.
Williams clearly see this as a great opportunity to boost the coffers without trading much in return.
Whilst it’s not the approach any of us want to see Williams take, they do it out of necessity.
And if it gets the team back on an even financial footing sooner then I’m all for it.
However, the parallels between the Williams team of 2020 and Frank Williams Racing Cars 45 years before it have not gone unnoticed.