Button’s 250th GP ends in disappointing retirement

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Jenson Button’s 250th Formula 1 grand prix ended in disappointment after the Briton was forced to retire from the race with just two laps remaining in Bahrain today.

The McLaren driver had been running well inside the points for much of the race, and appeared to be on course to pick up the team’s sole points haul after Kevin Magnussen retired on lap 41. However, he also developed a problem on his car, forcing him to park up agonizingly close to the finish.

“In terms of pace, we took a step forward this weekend,” Button explained. “Moreover, our degradation was positive and I think we did a very good job understanding our tires. Our long-run pace was very good, especially over the last few laps, so I reckon we could have raced very hard to the finish on the primes. But unfortunately I didn’t get that opportunity.”

Ahead of his 250th race, Button posed for a special team picture in which his colleagues donned commemorative t-shirts, and the 2009 world champion expressed his sympathy for the team after all of their hard work.

“It’s tough for all the team, because they all worked really well and really hard,” he said. “We were set for fifth place at worst and a podium finish at best, and that would have been a very positive outcome for all of us.

“In summary, then, there was lots of good racing out there – I can’t even remember how many cars I overtook but it was quite a lot – and I think it was the same for almost everyone out there. I really enjoyed it, in fact.”

Button is the most experienced British driver to have raced in Formula 1, and come the end of the season, only Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher will have taken part in more races than the McLaren driver.

Williams confirms Kubica and Sirotkin for Abu Dhabi F1 test

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Williams has confirmed that Robert Kubica will enjoy his third Formula 1 test outing with the team at the end-of-season running in Abu Dhabi next week as rumors grow regarding a possible race seat for 2018.

Almost seven years after his last F1 start, Kubica’s remarkable return from severe injuries sustained in a rally accident saw him enjoy two private tests with Renault before completing running with the team in a 2017-spec car in Hungary over the summer.

Reservations over Kubica’s capabilities prompted Renault to pass on giving him a seat, instead opting to hire Carlos Sainz Jr. for next year, only for Williams to become an alternative for the Pole.

Kubica tested a 2014-spec Williams at both Silverstone and the Hungaroring in recent months, and will now sample a 2017 car when he tests at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit next Tuesday and Wednesday.

Kubica will share track time with regular Williams racer Lance Stroll and Russian youngster Sergey Sirotkin, who has worked with Renault over the past two years but also missed out on a 2018 seat.

“Williams Martini Racing is pleased to confirm it will run Robert Kubica and Sergey Sirotkin for the Abu Dhabi Pirelli tire test, alongside current race driver Lance Stroll,” a statement from the team reads.

“The Pirelli tire test will take place over two days at the Yas Marina circuit during the week following the 2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

“On day one Robert Kubica will drive the FW40 in the morning session, before Lance Stroll takes over in the afternoon.

“On day two Sergey Sirotkin will drive in the morning and afternoon sessions before handing over to Robert in the late afternoon.

“The test is aimed at evaluating 2018 candidate tires on behalf of the Formula 1 tire supplier Pirelli.

“Williams is excited to have this opportunity to assess the new tyres across such an interesting range of drivers: Lance, as confirmed race driver for 2018, Robert with his huge experience, and Sergey as a very promising young talent in Formula 1.”

Williams denied earlier this week it has signed Kubica to partner Stroll for 2018, but indications are the deal looks very likely to go ahead, subject to the relevant paperwork and contracts being finalized.