Former Formula 1 team boss Flavio Briatore says that he's sad Robert Kubica won't get an opportunity to return to the sport after all.
The 32-year-old Polish driver took part in 76 Grand Prix races between 2006 and 2010. He was involved in a big crash during the 2011 Ronde di Andora rally which left him with life-changing injuries to his leg, shoulder and arm.
Since then, he has returned to motorsport and competed in the World Rally Championship from 2013. Last year he conducted tests with Renault and Williams to evaluate a possible return to Formula 1.
However it seems that his performance in the car has not been as good as hoped. Russian rising star Sergey Sirotkin is now favourite to take the sole remaining seat on the 2018 grid at Williams.
"I'm very sorry that Kubica did not manage to convince Williams," former Renault team principal Briatore told Speed Week.
Briatore said that it was a matter of money that had proved the deciding factor in Williams' yet-to-be-confirmed decision. The team has postponed its announcement over who would replace Felipe Massa, who retired at the end of 2017. Lance Stroll is remaining at Grove for a second season.
Sirotkin is heavily backed by Russian sponsors keen to ensure the country retains a presence in the sport after Daniil Kvyat lost his seat at Toro Rosso during the latter stages of the 2017 season.
"Everything has been tried, but the Russian has an enormous budget," Briatore explained. "We're talking about 20 million. Kubica could muster between seven and ten.
"I'm very sorry about that," he added.
Briatore said that he had been talking to former F1 world champion Nico Rosberg, who helps manage Kubica.
He felt that the decision would deny Formula 1 fans a fairytale comeback story. He insisted that it would have been hugely popular with fans and a boost for the sport's profile and reputation.
"If Robert had returned to Formula 1, it would have been a major success for the sport," he said. "I find it very strange that the F1 leadership did not lend him a helping hand."