Russian Sergey Sirotkin (22) has been confirmed to partner Lance Stroll (19) at Williams in the upcoming season, making it one of the youngest and least experienced driver line up on the grid.
Sirotkin only emerged as favourite to the seat after a surprise drive alongside Robert Kubica in the Abu Dhabi post season tyre test. erpite the latter being expected to make a surprise return to F1 after a rallying crash all but ended his career in 2011.
However, Sirotkin outperformed Kubica in the test and so was handed the role instead.
Sirotkin also beat reserve driver Paul di Resta, Mercedes junior Pascal Wherein and Red Bull junior programme drop out and compatriot Daniil Kvyat.
“To say I’m happy and proud to join such a famous team like Williams is an understatement,” said Sirotkin, who is believed to bring around £15m in sponsorship money.
“It took a huge amount of work to get where I am, and I’m really happy and thankful to everyone involved.”
Claire Williams (deputy team principal) added:
“After an extensive driver evaluation process, I am thrilled to have our 2018 line-up finalised, and I’m excited to see what next season brings.
“We have taken our time to evaluate all the available options, and I’m confident Lance and Sergey can deliver the best results for the team.
“The Williams philosophy has always been to promote and develop young talent and Sergey fits right into that ethos.
“Lance has had a record-breaking debut season, and with a year now under his belt, he will be ready to hit the ground running in 2018.”
Meanwhile, Kubica will make still make a return to F1 after being announced as Williams Reserve and Development driver not long after Sirotkin was confirmed.
This will mean he will take part in both pre-season and in-season testing as well as being a stand-in should Stroll or Sirotkin be unable to race.
The deal also satisfies title sponsor’s ‘Martini’ requirements to have at least one driver over 25.
“I am delighted to announce that Robert will be joining Williams as our reserve and development driver for the 2018 season,” said Claire Williams.
“All of us at Williams have been immensely impressed at what he has achieved, and it is a great credit to his strength of character and commitment to return to Formula 1.
“We are excited to be continuing our relationship with Robert and look forward to working with him this coming season.”