In first, Israeli racer breaks into Formula 1 with top track team Willliams

Roy Nissany to be test driver for UK motor racing group, tasked with testing cars ahead of Grand Prix events and to be on standby to take the wheel for races

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Roy Nissany at a press conference announcing his joining the Williams group Formula 1 racing team as its third driver, in Tel Avvi, January 15, 2020. (Courtesy Shauli Lendner)
Roy Nissany at a press conference announcing his joining the Williams group Formula 1 racing team as its third driver, in Tel Avvi, January 15, 2020. (Courtesy Shauli Lendner)

Israel made its first entry into the high-speed world of Formula 1 racing with the announcement Wednesday that local racer Roy Nissany will become the official test driver for the Williams Group, one of the top teams in the sport.

Nissany, 25, who was born in Tel Aviv, is the first Israeli driver to be signed up by a Formula 1 team for what is the highest level of single-seat car racing under the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (International Automobile Federation).

The announcement was made at the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation in Tel Aviv during a press conference also attended by the UK-based racing group’s deputy team principal Claire Williams.

“Today, I achieved the goal which I set for myself many years ago, to become a Formula 1 driver,” Nissany said. “Formula 1 reaches a huge audience of fans and I am so pleased that they will now get to know Israel through the motor racing track.”

A Williams racing car during the Emirates Formula One Grand Prix, at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, December 1, 2019. (Hassan Ammar/AP)

In December, the Williams group asked Nissany to attend two days of testing in Abu Dhabi ahead of the Grand Prix in that country, after which the team decided to sign him up as third driver, according to a statement from his management group.

His duties will be to train with the team and drive Friday practice circuits during Grand Prix weekends when the teams test the race cars ahead of the main contest.

As third driver, who can replace one of the team’s two race drivers if they are unable to compete, Nissany may have an opportunity to get behind the wheel for a race.

“Roy demonstrated his capabilities driving in the post-season Abu Dhabi test last year and we were extremely impressed with what he could do in a short space of time,” said Williams, who is the daughter of Sir Frank Williams, a former driver who later established the racing team.

“He is a hard-working individual who we are excited to be working with this year,” Williams said.

Roy Nissany, left, with Williams Formula One racing team Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams, at a press conference in Tel Aviv, January 15, 2020. (Courtesy: Shauli Lendner)

At the press conference, chemi Peres, Chairman of the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation and son of Israel’s former president Shimon Peres, also honored Claire Williams with the title of “Ambassador of Peace.”

Nissany had two seasons in Formula V8 3.5, taking the podium thirteen times and grabbing pole position for seven races. He had two victories at Silverstone in Britain, as well as a wins at Monza in Italy, France’s Paul Ricard circuit and Jerez in Spain. He last competed in 2018 but missed the 2019 season due to injury.

In 2014 he first tried out in a Formula 1 car with Swiss team Sauber Motorsport, the statement said.

The Williams team has a history of success in Formula 1 that has included legendary drivers such as Ayrton Senna, Nelson Pique, Keke Rosberg, Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill, Jenson Button, Alain Prost and Jacques Villeneuve.

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