In an article on motorsport.com about Robert Kubica’s future options, published today Roberto Chinchero writes with an air of assuredness that ‘Williams needs to commercialise its second seat’.
Kubica is expected to have access to a larger amount of funding than before, however, it’s seemingly not enough to match the apparent £15m-£20m that Williams need to plug the gap in their budget left by the departing Lance Stroll and the end of their Martini sponsorship.
Assuming this also rules out Esteban Ocon, being without sponsorship, this leaves the two Russians Sergey Sirotkin and Artem Markelov, and recent addition to the list of Williams potential suitors, Esteban Gutierrez who appears to have rustled up a sizeable pot of cash from a number of Mexican backers and who tossed his sombrero into the ring at this weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix.
So it would seem that it’s a three horse race for the Williams #2 seat in F1 in 2019, and I must admit to being slightly disappointed.
I cannot tell you how excited I was at the prospect of Russell/Ocon at Williams in 2019, even if only for the short term, with one or both likely to move to Mercedes in the next few years. It would have shown a real statement of intent from the Grove team that they were serious about moving forward from an utterly dismal 2018.
However, it may have been folly to expect Williams to be financially able to sustain a season where neither driver brings with them a huge wedge of cash, especially at a time where the team look to be without a title sponsor.
The more sensible option is clearly to look for gradual and steady progression back to the front of the grid, rather than for a quick fix, which could leave the team vulnerable to the fate that befell Force India this summer when the administrators were called in to sell the team to the highest bidder lest they go to the wall.