All the funds that Williams F1 team got for hiring Sergey Sirotkin will be used to improve the car, say his Russian sponsors.
It has been long suspected that Sirotkin was chosen because of the money he would bring in to the squad. Williams needed to plug a few gaps in its budget and had to choose a new driver, making it an excellent arrangement for them.
But senior executives from SMP Racing insist that their investment is funding the car’s development rather than just pay the team’s bills.
Speaking to reporters, SMP Racing chief executive Dmitry Samorukov said: “The financial side of the deal is top secret, but we’re very hopeful – actually, certain – that the monetary part will be directed at the development of technologies, for the car to go faster.
“To be even more precise: we know that the financial cooperation with Williams will go towards improving the car.
“Whatever the money is, it will go towards making the car more competitive.”
Russian billionaire owner of the SMP Racing, Boris Rotenberg said that although the investment may have been a factor in the decision making, it was not the major reason behind the British outfit picking Sirotkin.
He said: “Money is always an important part of motorsport, it’s an expensive sport.
“But here it’s not a money principle, it’s Sergey, who’s proven he can work with the car, he can be as fast as the team’s regular drivers, and he can work with the machinery, the engineers, and establish a great relationship with the team.
“That’s why Williams chose him because in Abu Dhabi he did the best he could and surprised everybody.
“Yes, we’re investing money, but we’re investing it in technology, in the new car, that we’ll see in February and going forward.”
Williams F1 team’s technical chief Paddy Lowe is confident the 2018 car will be a significant step-up from its 2017 version.
“We set targets internally, we always aim to meet those, and they’re always very stretched,” he said.
“We’ve done that for this new car that we’ll be bringing out at the end of February, so we think it will be a very significant step relative to last year’s car.
“Where that takes us in the absolute measure, against all the other teams, we cannot predict.
“We keep pushing year on year, month on month, so we’re optimistic about what we can do, but we are also realistic.”