Williams add 14-year-old Ukrainian talent to their Driver Academy

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Formula One's Grove-based outfit Williams Racing have announced a new addition to their Driver Academy with young karting star Oleksandr Bondarev joining their young driver programme.

The 14-year-old Ukrainian has already demonstrated his talents behind the wheel with multiple karting achievements in his junior career. He was notably crowned 2023 CIK-FIA Karting European Champion, becoming the first Ukrainian driver in the history of karting to win the championship.

Oleksandr, or ‘Sasha’, began his journey in karting in 2014 at the young age of five. By age seven, he became the youngest Ukrainian karting champion and winner of the Rotax Max Challenge Ukraine. Since then he has continued to climb the karting ladder with an impressive record of wins, podiums and pole positions.

The Grove-based outfit said that "Oleksandr will have the team’s full support and guidance in nurturing his talent and developing his skills throughout his progression in the junior categories of motorsport."

The rising star has recently joined PREMA’s karting team for the WSK Euro Series event in Franciacorta and will compete in this year’s FIA Karting World Championship that’s set to take place in October.

Commenting on the new chapter of his career, Bondarev said:“I am so excited to join the Williams Racing Driver Academy. 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 honour 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 programme 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 added: “We’re delighted to announce that Oleksandr has joined the Williams Racing Driver Academy. 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.”