Monday 22 January at 07:35 :
Jan.22 (GMM) Robert Kubica could now be a contender to race for Williams in 2019.
The British team's technical boss and shareholder Paddy Lowe said he does not regret assessing the Pole's capabilities in a series of tests, even though Kubica was ultimately given only the reserve driver role.
"We organised a serious test programme for him and we will continue this process of assessing him," Lowe is quoted by Russia's Championat.
"Let's see where this leads."
When asked if the former BMW and Renault driver could race in 2019, Lowe answered: "Yes, perhaps."
However, there still may be no place for Kubica.
Team CEO Mike O'Driscoll is quoted as saying by Russian media: "We do not divulge the details, but the contract with Sergey (Sirotkin) is for several seasons.
"Together with Paddy, I want Williams to become world champions once again and Sergey is a part of that," he added.
O'Driscoll is quoted by Sport-Express as saying that Sirotkin's greatest strength is his "consistency".
"In the tests he was incredibly consistent," he said.
"Yes, many tracks are unfamiliar to him, but Sirotkin is very talented and a fast learner."
Many believe it was Sirotkin's big backing by the Russian bank SMP that gave him precedence over Kubica.
But SMP boss Boris Rotenberg insists: "Money is an important component, but Sirotkin is at Williams not because of money but because of the sporting factor.
"We are investing our money in technology instead," he told Tass news agency.
McLaren driver Stoffel Vandoorne also backed Sirotkin.
"Williams made a very good choice," he told La Derniere Heure newspaper.
"I competed against Sergey and he is a very good and very fast driver who works hard," the Belgian said. "He's faster than many believe."
Williams' Lowe agrees: "It is important that the drivers squeeze the last tenths from the car, and I can tell you that Sergey is very smart and very fast."
SMP racing director Dmitry Samorukov confirmed that Sirotkin's contract is for multiple years.
"We cannot disclose that information in detail, but it's one year or more," he told Sportbox. "Everything will depend on how Sergey will prove himself this year."