Williams has announced that European karting champion Oleksandr Bondarev has been signed to its driver academy.
Bondarev was crowned the CIK-FIA Karting European Champion this year, becoming the first Ukrainian to take the title. Now the 14-year-old has been added to the Williams set-up after also signing for Prema’s karting team ahead of an attempt at the FIA Karting World Championship in October.
“I am so excited to join the Williams Racing Driver Academy,” Bondarev said. “Williams Racing is one of the most iconic teams in motorsport, having had some of the best drivers in the sport race for them and it is an honor to have the chance to be part of that history.
“Since I was five years old, when I began karting, I dreamt about Formula 1. I have a long way to go, of course, but this is a huge step for me. I always knew that becoming part of an F1 young driver program was crucial and I will work hard to repay the confidence and belief which James and Sven have placed in me.”
Williams sporting director Sven Smeets says Bondarev will remain in karting for the time being but that the team had noticed his potential prior to his recent championship success.
“We’re delighted to announce that Oleksandr has joined the Williams Racing Driver Academy,” Smeets said. “He’s a highly regarded young talent that we’ve monitored for some time.
“At just 14 years old, he already has several impressive achievements to his name, including the 2023 FIA-CIK European OKJ Championship. Oleksandr has shown a lot of potential at an early age and we look forward to supporting his development as he continues his journey in karting.”
Bondarev joins Jamie Chadwick, Zak O’Sullivan, Franco Colapinto, Luke Browning and Ollie Gray in the academy.