Williams Martini Racing have confirmed Sergey Sirotkin as second driver for 2018, with Robert Kubica securing the role of development and reserve for the new season. Disappointing fans throughout the world, Williams Martini Racing have today confirmed young Russian prospect Sergey Sirotkin will partner Lance Stroll in the 2018 Formula One season, beating Polish fan favourite Robert Kubica for the most coveted drive remaining in Grand Prix racing. Since Felipe Massa announced his retirement from Formula One at the end of 2017 it was thought highly likely that the retiring Robert Kubica would be a practical shoe in for the Grove based team, however following what was a solid testing performance in Abu Dhabi, former Renault reserve Sirotkin began to move up in the estimations of the former World Champions, eventually doing enough to secure his Formula One debut for the team at just 22 years of age. Despite the reported £15,000,000 financial package that comes with the driver, Williams maintain that the decision to sign Sirotkin over Kubica was based purely on performance alone, something stated by Chief Technical Officer Paddy Lowe at the announcement of the decision earlier today: "We have conducted a rigorous and exhaustive driver evaluation process. Ultimately, Sergey impressed the team with his driving pace and talent, technical feedback and work ethic, both at the factory and trackside in Abu Dhabi. I’m delighted he will be joining the team to partner Lance next season. Lance will be going into his second season with us, after notable achievements in his rookie year. We have an exciting line-up for 2018 which we believe will help us to maximise the potential of the FW41.” With the signing of Sirotkin alongside teenager Lance Stroll for 2018, Williams will be fielding one of the least experienced driving parings in the history of the team, something the British outfit have looked to address by securing 32-year-old former Grand Prix winner Kubica in the role of development and reserve driver. Kubica, looking to return to Grand Prix racing for the first time since his massive rally accident back in 2010, is thought likely to enjoy plenty of seat time in the year ahead as he looks to continue to prove his fitness for a return to full time competition. The Polish former BMW Sauber and Renault driver will take part in several pre and mid season test sessions, as well as being confirmed to drive in a number of Free Practice sessions during the year ahead. Despite the disappointment of missing out on a full time return for 2018, Kubica remains upbeat that he is still in with a shout of a return to Formula One race driver duties in the future: “I’m extremely happy to be joining the Williams team as its official Reserve and Development Driver this season. I feel in the best physical shape that I have ever been, but it has taken a lot of work to get to where I am now, so I’d like to thank Williams for the opportunities they have given me so far, and for putting their faith in me with this appointment. I have enjoyed being back in the Formula One paddock over these past few months, and I now look forward to working with the Williams technical team, both at the factory and at the track, to really help push forward the development of the FW41 and to make a real difference to their 2018 campaign. Having driven both the FW36 and the FW40, I’m looking forward to seeing how the FW41 measures up on track and working with the team to ensure we can maximise the performance of the car. My ultimate goal remains to race again in Formula One and this is another important step in that direction: I cannot wait to get started.” Pre season testing begins February 26th at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona. If you like your motorsport fast and open wheeled, check out the Formula One sub forum and get yourself in on the discussion today! Like what you see here at RaceDepartment? Don't forget to like, subscribe and follow us on social media! RaceDepartment YouTube RaceDepartment Twitter RaceDepartment Facebook RaceDepartment Twitch RaceDepartment Instagram Have Williams made the right decision picking Sirotkin in place of Kubica this season? Can the Pole return to race duties in future? Let us know in the comments section below!