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Sirotkin's backers pushing hard for Williams seat

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Sergey Sirotkin's backers are pulling out all the stops to get their protégé into Williams' second seat alongside Lance Stroll in 2018.

The 22-year-old Russian emerged as a surprise contender for the drive after last month's post-season Abu Dhabi tyre test, and is now rumored to be Williams' preferred choice for next year, crushing Robert Kubica's hopes of a sensational F1 come-back.

Sirotkin enjoys the support of his long-time personal backers, Russian bank SMP, which has reportedly put €15 million on the table to help the driver's cause.

SMP owner and billionaire Boris Rotenberg is hopeful a deal can be secured but he isn't putting the cart before the horse however.

"I never like to talk in advance," said the Russian oligarch.

"It's like football, when you only say you want to win the next game. We are all hoping and trying to do everything, but it depends not only on us.

"The main thing is that they (Williams) understand us, but in any case Sergey deserves to go to Formula 1," Rotenberg added.

"He beat the competition, going faster than Kubica and at the level of Stroll. So we now have the opportunity to put him into a car," he said.

Arthur Kubica, the Polish driver's father, insists his son and his management team, which includes Nico Rosberg, are still fighting for the Williams seat.

The Grove-based outfit has delayed the announcement of its 2018 driver line-up to after the new year.

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