Williams insists it has yet to make a decision on whether to sign Robert Kubica for 2018 following social media reports of an announcement in Abu Dhabi.
Following the Mexican Grand Prix, Felipe Massa confirmed he will retire from Formula 1 at the end of this season, with Williams weighing up its options for next season. Kubica – who tested for Renault earlier this year before Carlos Sainz replaced Jolyon Palmer – has been seeking a return following his serious rally crash in 2011, and Williams has carried out two evaluation tests with him since the summer break.
While the team has stated it was unlikely to make a decision before the end of the season – with only Sauber yet to confirm its driver line-up for 2018 – social media reports that Kubica has signed a deal led to a statement on Tuesday morning refuting those claims.
“Contrary to further reports in the media, although conversations are ongoing with Kubica, it is still yet to be finally decided who will replace Massa,” a team spokesperson said. “We will make an announcement when we have something to announce but nothing is planned this weekend in Abu Dhabi.”
Williams also confirmed that both Massa and teammate Lance Stroll will carry out full duties at the Yas Marina Circuit this weekend, dismissing the possibility of an FP1 appearance for Kubica. However, chief technical officer Paddy Lowe admits the Pole is likely to drive during the post-race Pirelli tire test in Abu Dhabi.
Asked by RACER if the test would be a good opportunity to evaluate a non-race driver in the 2017 car, Lowe replied: “Yeah, absolutely.
“Those would be valuable days for us to look at ideas or do other things … It’s a finite opportunity and we just want to make the best of it. There could be one [driver], there could be two. We won’t be doing a shootout, it’s not the place for a shootout.
“It’s one of the opportunities we have [to run Kubica], so watch this space. There’s a chance Lance will do some driving there, but Felipe not, for sure. So there’s some certainty!”