Williams have spoken out against Sergey Sirotkin’s pay driver tag, adamant he was the “best” option available to the team.
Sirotkin will make his Formula 1 debut this season, racing alongside Lance Stroll at Williams.
Like the Canadian, he has joined the team with the help of some serious financial backing with reports suggesting his sponsors have paid £15million for his drive.
Whether those numbers are correct or not, chief technical officer Paddy Lowe insists Sirotkin is the best man for the job.
“We selected him as the best driver available to us, bar none,” he told Autosport.
“We’re confident that he will be very quick, very consistent, very calm in his working – and I think these qualities will take him a long way.”
And although Williams will be fielding a very young and inexperienced line-up, Lowe says he “2ouldn’t describe it as a gamble.”
He added: “We understand that there are some disadvantages.
“For Sergey, there is a learning curve around that first year, particularly with some of the circuits he hasn’t been to before, but his performance stands in its own right.
“One of the advantages of a younger driver is, if it’s a great driver, you’re investing in a long-term future and a long-term success that that can bring to him and to the team.
“We prefer to see that in Sergey we found a rising star, and we hope to work with him in the long-term and enjoy a lot of success together.”