13:00 GMT +321 April 2018
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    Pilot of the program for the development of Russian motorsport SMP Racing Sergei Sirotkin at a news conference on the signing of an agreement between SMP Racing and Williams Martini Racing on Sirotkin's participation in Formula 1

    F1 Williams' Paddy Lowe Defends Sergey Sirotkin: "He's the Best Choice for Us"

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    The team has been criticized for choosing the young Russian driver over Robert Kubica to replace the retired Felipe Masa for a full-season seat in their new car, the FW41.

    The Formula 1 team chief technical officer did his best to end the discussion around the controversial appointment ahead of the new season.

    "Sergey was selected simply on merit for his driving," Williams' boss insisted at the unveiling ceremony, according to F1i.com. "He's the best choice for us."

    Motor Racing - F1 Formula One - Formula One Test Session - Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Montmelo, Spain - March 9, 2018 Sergey Sirotkin of Williams during testing
    © REUTERS / Albert Gea
    Motor Racing - F1 Formula One - Formula One Test Session - Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Montmelo, Spain - March 9, 2018 Sergey Sirotkin of Williams during testing

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    Lowe was also impressed by the pedigree of the SMP Racing driver development program that the 22-year-old went through.

    "If you look at the scale of it, it covers Russia, Eastern Europe and Scandinavia, drawing drivers from all of that geography," he said. "They have 1,500 drivers on their books at the moment, starting from a very young age in karting."

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    Formula One, racing, Sergei Sirotkin
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