Kubica gets another chance to impress
News has emerged today that Williams are set to give Robert Kubica two opportunities to show them what he is capable of before they make the final decision on their 2018 driver lineup.
The Pole will test for one day in Silverstone after the Japanese Grand Prix, before moving to a two-day test at the Hungaroring, where current reserve driver Paul di Resta will also drive on one of the days.
This not only suggests that Williams want to get an idea of Kubica's performance, but by lining him up against di Resta, they are also giving the Scot his chance to show that he would be the better choice.
Question marks still remain
The choice of circuits is very telling for Williams, as it is a circuit both drivers have driven on recently (Kubica when he tested for Renault and di Resta when he deputised for Felipe Massa at this year's grand prix), so the team are obviously keen to give them as level a playing field as possible to show what they can do.
It is also a circuit that keeps the drivers busy in the cockpit, with very few straights separating the track's 14 corners. The variety of corners will no doubt have been another consideration when choosing to run here; the circuit features a mix of long, sweeping corners, quick changes of direction, and tight hairpins, which will test Kubica's range of motion to its limits.
This has been the main concern surrounding a potential comeback for the Pole. Following his rally accident that originally ended his F1 career, he almost lost his right arm and although he has made miraculous progress with its motion, there were worries that he wouldn't be able to operate the car properly, especially in the tight confines of an F1 cockpit.
Kubica showed in the Hungary test that he is more than capable of driving the car, but by now pairing him with one of their current drivers over two days Williams are likely to have the clearest picture yet of just how competitive he might be.
End of the line for Massa?
This would appear to signal the end of the road for Felipe Massa, but that might not necessarily be the case. Williams are essentially on a data gathering exercise during these tests, and the one driver in contention for 2018 who they already have plenty of data on is the popular Brazilian.
That definitely doesn't mean he won't be feeling the pressure though, and will head into Japan knowing that he is fighting for his F1 career. Earlier in the season he was dominating his rookie teammate, but recently those tables have turned and Lance Stroll has now finished ahead of Massa in the last three races. Undoubtedly some of this is down to Felipe's mentoring role, not to mention a myriad of private tests conducted by the Strolls, but either way, Massa needs to pick up his game if he is to stay with the team.
He has said previously that he only wants to remain with the team if they want him to stay i.e. if he is not just the only option available as happened at the end of last season. It appears that now would be that time to really make them want him.
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