Formula One's Williams Racing signs first ever Israeli driver Roy Nissany

Nissany, for the 2020 season, will race for Williams' Formula Two team and will get the chance to test the team's Formula One setup during Grand Prix practices.

Roy Nissany sitting on top of a ROKiT Williams Racing Formula One Car (photo credit: SHAULI LENDNER)
Roy Nissany sitting on top of a ROKiT Williams Racing Formula One Car
(photo credit: SHAULI LENDNER)
British Formula One motor racing team and constructor ROKiT Williams Racing announced that they have signed 25-year-old Israeli Roy Nissany to their 2020 driver lineup as their official test driver.
With this move Nissany joins the illustrious list of Williams drivers, following in the footsteps of world champions like Brazilians Aryton Senna and Nelson Pique, Frenchman Alain Prost, Finland’s Kimi “Iceman” Raikonen and Keke Rosberg, as well as Britain’s Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill and Jenson Button.
During the announcement at the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation in Tel Aviv on Wednesday afternoon, Williams Racing Group President and Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams, warmly welcomed Nissany onto the team.
“It is a pleasure to welcome Roy Nissany to ROKiT Williams Racing in the role of our official test driver,” Williams said at Wednesday’s event. “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. He is a hard-working individual who we are excited to be working with this year.”
For the 2020 season, Nissany will race for Williams’ Formula Two team and has the opportunity to test the team’s Formula One setup during Grand Prix practices – effectively getting a feel for the car in addition to demonstrating each race week what he can bring to the team and to the track.
The goal for Nissany and the Williams team is for the Israeli driver to hold one of the constructor’s two racing seats in 2021, after Nissany earns enough FIA points from the Formula Two circuits to be able compete in Formula One. That would make Nissany the first Israeli to race in a Formula One Grand Prix and to hold one of the total twenty premier racing seats, dating back to the 1920s.
Nissany, the son of a former Formula One test driver, has been racing since his legs were able to reach the gas pedal – making his way from go-karts as a young boy, to carving his way through the ranks of the junior Formula series, to now an opportunity to compete in Formula Two under the auspices of Williams Racing at 25 years of age - lining up the young Israeli to get the eventual chance to race with nineteen other of the world's best drivers on motorsport's grandest stage.
“Today, I achieved the goal which I set for myself many years ago, to become a Formula One driver. This is a very exciting moment, not only for me, but also for everyone who has been with me along the way over the years. Formula One reaches a huge audience of fans and I am so pleased that they will now get to know Israel through the motor racing track,” Nissany said.
Nissany’s promotion follows two successful years in the Formula V8 3.5 series, where he secured thirteen podium positions and sat on pole seven separate times – including victories in the United Kingdom at Silverstone, Italy at Monza, France as well as Spain. Nissany competed in Formula Two previously in 2018, but had to sit out last year due to injury. In 2014, at the age of 19, he also tested for the Swiss Sauber Team as a Formula Three driver. The difference now is that the Israeli has been named the official third driver and next in line to sit in one of Williams’ two championship Formula One seats.
SITTING ALONGSIDE Williams and Nissany at Wednesday’s announcement was Canadian-Israeli philanthropist Sylvan Adams, who in addition to his many other endeavors – including bringing the Giro d’Italia to Israel, organizing the international soccer match between rival clubs Argentina and Uruguay in Tel Aviv, facilitating the creation of Israel’s first Tour de France representatives and paying for Madonna’s appearance at Eurovision – now also serves as the president of the Roy Nissany Formula One Management Group.
(From Left to Right) Canadian-Israeli Philanthropist Sylvan Adams, Israeli driver Roy Nissany and Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams(From Left to Right) Canadian-Israeli Philanthropist Sylvan Adams, Israeli driver Roy Nissany and Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams
Adams and Nissany connected at an Israeli biking event organized by the Sylvan Adams Foundation last year, when the Israeli driver approached Adams requesting his assistance in bringing his talents to the next level of competition.
With only 20 seats and 10 teams in the highest class of single seat auto racing, there are five things an aspiring driver needs: talent, open seats from retiring drivers or team lineup overhauls, perfect timing, monetary backing and of course a bit of luck. This year Williams’ two seats are held by second-year driver in Britain’s George Russell and the team’s test driver from 2019 Canadian Nicholas Latifi – the latter, coincidentally a close family friend of Adams.
Adams, recognizing that there was no suitable infrastructure for Formula One racing in Israel, and realizing this was another perfect opportunity to place Israel on the global stage, agreed to help Nissany follow his dreams.
Which continues to further Adams' project and worldwide notion of what he calls "normal Israel." Bringing massive audiences of apolitical people, that don’t necessarily care about politics, that don’t really know Israel, but are swayed into a negative impression of Israel's due to the small dimensions of media coverage - and instead within these milestones, showcase what Israel and Israelis are actually like, a diverse group of people, stemming from all different religious and cultural backgrounds, with multiple points of view, all coincidentally living in one place.
Adams told The Jerusalem Post that when he met with the Williams teams, toured their facility in Oxford and heard firsthand future plans from the engineers themselves for the next few years, he felt a natural affinity towards the team. “Plus they really like Roy, and he tested so well that they signed him to a contract,” he added. 
“This is yet another landmark moment for Israeli sports. Hundreds of millions of motor racing enthusiasts across the world will get to see a different side of our country. I have no doubt that Roy will do a wonderful job representing our country with dignity and pride. I cannot wait for the moment when we see the blue and white flag on a Formula One car,” Adams said at Wednesday’s announcement.
In addition to the notions of togetherness, Chemi Peres, chairman of the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation and son of Israel’s former president Shimon Peres, honored Williams as an “ambassador of peace,” due to her willingness to sign an Israeli driver to her team without batting an eye or giving it a second thought.
“I have always believed that sport should transcend boundaries,” said Williams. “You are an inspiring nation... this gives another platform to showcase this on a global level.”
Peres added, that “today, Roy Nissany proved that what we thought was impossible, is possible. This is our motto at the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation. It was also the legacy of my father. It is a legacy which we continue today, as we educate the next generation. We instill them with important values, which can also be found in the world of motor racing, that through patience, tolerance and teamwork, the impossible can be achieved."
As Nissany patiently awaits for his turn to prove himself on race day Sundays, the Israeli crowd will be following his progress closely during Friday practices as Nissany prepares himself to be next in line to sit in one Williams’ two Formula One championship cars.
“I couldn’t be more excited... I just want to get started,” said Nissany.