Williams admit Kubica decision unexpected, open on 2020 replacement

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Williams has admitted they were as surprised as everyone when Robert Kubica announced he'll be leaving after this season.

On Thursday, the Pole revealed his decision not to continue just one year after making his much-anticipated Formula 1 return to the grid, saying it would help him to decide his 2020 plans.

And on Friday, deputy team boss Claire Williams paid tribute to Kubica's contribution to the team which extends back to the end of 2017.

"It came a little bit out of the blue, to be honest with you," she told Sky Sports. "We haven't really had many conversations about next year and what our plans were, and what his were. 

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"I think we made that quite clear, that we were in no rush to make that decision, but Robert has obviously made that choice for himself and we respect that. 

"He's done a great job for the team in the two years that we've had him, we've really enjoyed him. Being with us, he's obviously helped developed the car, so we'll miss him when he's gone."

It has been expected for some time that reserve driver Nicholas Latifi would be replacing Kubica having performed well in F2 and during his Friday outings.

Also the Canadian brings much-needed financial backing, but with the likes of Nico Hulkenberg also available, Williams insists the options are open.

"We've got a number of candidates on our list that we're thinking about. You'll know that we're trying to tick a lot of boxes with any driver that we bring in," she explained.

"You want the pace on the race track, but clearly, the position that we're in at the moment, it's important for us to have somebody that gives us really sound and strong technical feedback so that it all goes to help develop the race car.

"We're an independent team, so someone that is good at marketing and all that stuff as well. We're not ready to make our decision, and we're not in any rush. We've got to make the best decision that we can for the team to help move us back up the grid in 2020."