Lance Stroll, Sergey Sirotkin, Williams, 2018

Williams choose Sirotkin over Kubica for final place on 2018 grid

2018 F1 season

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Williams has selected Sergey Sirotkin as its second driver for the 2018 F1 season to partner Lance Stroll.

The team evaluated Sirotkin alongside Robert Kubica in Abu Dhabi last year as the team evaluated its options for this season.

“To say I’m happy and proud to join such a famous team like Williams is an understatement,” said Sirotkin.

Sergey Sirotkin, Williams, Yas Marina, 2017
Sergey Sirotkin biography
“It took a huge amount of work to get where I am, and I’m really happy and thankful to everyone involved. The result of our combined efforts has helped me achieve my dream, and rest assured the team can rely on me to deliver my best.”

Williams chief technical officer Paddy Lowe said the team has “conducted a rigorous and exhaustive driver evaluation process.”

“Ultimately, Sergey impressed the team with his driving pace and talent, technical feedback and work ethic, both at the factory and trackside in Abu Dhabi,” said Lowe. “We have an exciting lineup for 2018 which we believe will help us to maximise the potential of the FW41,” he added.

Sirotkin first came to prominence in Formula One four years ago when he was linked with a drive at Sauber. The move never came off, though he made a single appearance for the team in the first practice session for Russia’s inaugural Grand Prix in 2014.

In 2016 he joined Renault’s young driver programme and has made a further six appearances in practice sessions over the last two years.

Sirotkin did not have a full-time drive in a series last year but his third-place finishes in the 2015 and 2016 GP2 championships mean he has more than the minimum required 40 superlicence points to step up to F1.

Williams’ announcement means all 20 race seats in the 2018 F1 field have been filled.

View the updated list of 2018 F1 drivers and teams

2018 F1 season

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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Posted on Categories 2018 F1 drivers and teams, 2018 F1 season, Sergey Sirotkin

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  • 157 comments on “Williams choose Sirotkin over Kubica for final place on 2018 grid”

    1. As expected

      1. I didn’t expect that photoshop above. Williams could hire someone better with all their money.

        1. @peartree

          Hopefully they’re spending all the money on engineering. They’re going to need a good car after supporting the most rubbish driver lineup on the F1 grid.

          1. @todfod Maybe, particularly self driving f1 ai.

    2. Good luck to him and hope he succeeds. Williams doesn’t have a consistent driver now.

    3. Pretty concerned for Williams this season. If they produce a decent car then I’m not expecting either driver to extract the maximum from it.

      1. Yep. Expecting their car to be around the level of Force India and Renault. However, they’ll likely be fighting Haas in the constructors.

    4. Who is the first quote from in Williams’ press release announcing Sirotkin?

      Claire Williams?
      Frank Williams?
      Paddy Lowe?


      Lance Stroll.

      1. the owner, sounds about right

          1. Seconded

        1. @johnmilk – LOL, nice zinger

        2. OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! (@)
          16th January 2018, 12:26

          COTD +1000

        3. wow, that was savage

        4. On the money as always @johnmilk

        5. tomorrow we’ll see the punniest COTD ever.

      2. Figured as such some time ago. Hope Stroll delivers for Williams, and Formula 1’s sake. Williams is one of the last, true great “independent” Formula 1 Teams. Seeing it fight for survival this way really does hurt a bit.

        1. they just need to be independent of their drivers now

          shouldn’t you be preparing for the new season?

      3. As the number one driver at Williams his dad requested that he would have his day in the choice of the other driver. Isn’t it like this for Lewis and Seb…?

        As said above, I don’t expect this pair to push the car to the limit but given the option Williams would always end up in that situation unfortunately. Quite sad. Might be a good opportunity for other drivers next year…

      4. @keithcollantine A bit of savageness there, LOL.

        1. @jerejj Not really, it’s true! But telling, I can’t help but think.

      5. To be fair, there’s a good bit of background bio for Sirotkin before that Stroll quote, but there’s also a long paragraph about Stroll’s accomplishments in there too…oy…

      6. Gerulf Dösinger (@)
        16th January 2018, 16:52

        The best thing is: The second half of the quote is not even about Sirotkin but about how Stroll enjoyed 2017 and is looking forward to ’18. Holy Jeebus!

    5. As expected, but a massive shame. Good, not good enough: deciding factor money.

      1. Who else could they put in? Kvyat?

        1. Wehrlein is a much faster driver than Kvyat IMO, and would have been a superb choice

        2. @Flyingbasil Kvyat had already been confirmed as a test/development driver for Ferrari a few days ago so that automatically dropped him out of the contention for the Williams drive before this confirmation.

    6. Sirotkin is certainly not a bad driver. He has shown good skills and racecraft in GP2, as well as some inconsistencies that have to be ironed out. I expect him to be the fastest of the pairing by mid-season.

      1. @spoutnik Indeed.

        I have heard good things about him and I think it’s fair that he gets a shot in F1. A lot of people are obviously disappointed that Kubica isn’t returning, but let’s give Sergey Sirotkin a chance before we judge how good / bad he is.

      2. I hope he will build on the speed he often showed in the past and have calmed down enough to avoid the mistakes – rather the same goes for lance, although he has shown less of those moments of speed IMO.

        I guess it will be interesting to see how both develop during the year, and all of us will no doubt be looking for all signs we can get that maybe, maybe Robert will get more time in the car :-)

        1. He is fast and his greatest enemy is his nerves, can he get them under control, he will be really quick.

          its sad to see williams FB and how much crap they are given because they were smart

          1. Yeah, I agree with that, if he can cut out those, Sirotkin can do very well @marussi

    7. Will be 7th in the contructors. Way off Renault, McLaren and Force India. Just ahead of Haas, Toro Rosso and Sauber. What a downfall for such a historic team..

      1. and neither Robert, Di resta or kvyat could change that.

        Williams is on a downhill and thats been like that for the last 2 years, Sirotkin is fast and stroll is……avarage

        1. They have been on the downhill since 1994. Sirotkin. Average.

    8. Unimpressive, unimaginative, expected

      Don’t understand why they went this route of choosing between Kubica and Sirotkin, plenty of other choices, but that’s Williams lately I’m afraid

      1. I think Williams just recognized that those 2 drivers had some assets no other avaialable drivers had:
        – Sirotkin had the money (and good pace on top of that)
        – Kubica had the car-development technical ability

        Williams has eventually chosen the most beneficial combination of them both.

        1. @damon, Kubica had to present himself as a pay driver after Renault already determined he wasn’t fast enough. Then another guy was faster and brought even more money than Kubica.

          Yeah the choice doesn’t sound that difficult really.

    9. Time for an F1 Fanatic poll @keithcollantine to see who fans think Williams should’ve gone for as Sirotkin doesn’t seem to be doing it for most people. Personally I’d have liked them to have gone with someone like JEV or Sam Bird who are delivering most weeks in Formula E. F1 experience and quick.

      1. I would do a shootout with:

        -Felix Rosenqvist
        -Edoardo Mortara
        -Lucas Di Grassi
        -Sebastian Buemi
        Even Williams old prospect, Alex Lynn

        All these deserve either a chance, or a second chance, in Formula 1. On another note, they are giving us excellent racing in Formula E, which is excellent.

        1. @tonyyeb And Sam Bird also.

          1. Why Sam Bird? Perennial under-achiever and not young either.

        2. @sergio-perez Sirotkin had a far more impressive GP2 career than either Lynn or Bird, and Mortara, Di Grassi and Buemi are old news in F1 terms. Rosenqvist maybe deserved a go but I still wouldn’t be sure he’s any better than Sirotkin.

      2. “Time for an F1 Fanatic poll @keithcollantine to see who fans think Williams should’ve gone for”
        What would be the point of such poll? We know who the more popular drivers is. Had Sirotkin had previous F1 experience and Kubica was a totally new driver, people would side with Sirotkin.
        There’s no point in dwelling on this.

        1. @damon if the roles were reversed i would go with kubica if he is faster, younger and a big wallet, that is a no brainer.

          only a fool would choose one that is slower, older and less money only because of nostalgia

    10. If what is being reported is true, that Kubica took too much time to get used to the new Pirelli tyres and couldn’t quite make them work (yet), then that says a shameful amount about Williams and about F1. Rather than letting the more talented one, with the incredible comeback story, take his time to get used to tyres and ultimately be the better driver than Sirotkin, they thought about the now, about a driver whose GP2 and test drives have had him familiar with the Pirelli’s and bring a lot of money. Talent should prevail, Williams should have given Kubica the chance and the winter tests to acclimatize. That money prevailed is a damning indictment of F1 right now.

      1. Shouldn’t Renault also bear some of the shame? Williams gave Kubica far more chances than any other team was willing to.

        From what I have read and heard it seems that the issue was actually the ultimate one lap pace. Given how important track position is and how close the grid is, a few tenths could make the difference between being 7th and 12th….

        1. Should it? Renault have Hulk and Sainz. Both are Schumacher compared to Stroll and Sirotkin. Renault went for talent above money, because it was available. Williams went for money over talent, despite talent being available.

          And as to the why, it’s all about getting used to the tyres. Kubica is brilliant. He would have.

          1. As with everything in F1, it isn’t that simple. Renault have the might of a car company behind them, Williams don’t. Easy to pick the drivers you want in that case. I am pretty certain that, if all things were equal, Williams would pick Hulk and Sainz in a heartbeat over Stroll and Sirotkin.

            Also, Kubica was brilliant. There is no guarantee that the 2017 spec Kubica is as quick as the driver we all know and love. If he was categorically as quick as he was before the accident Williams would have signed him…

            1. Well Robert wasn’t as fast overall as “Quick Nick” and HE sunk without trace didn’t he? Honestly, it’s amazing how a relatively fast (but not exceptionally so) F1 driver becomes regarded as the second coming of Senna without hardly turning a wheel!

            2. @geemac, as @baron notes, if Kubica was brilliant, then Heidfeld must have been truly astounding then given that, over the full period of time that Heidfeld and Kubica were paid together at BMW-Sauber, Heidfeld was the one who comes out on top (Heidfeld finished ahead of Kubica 29 times to 23).

              @baron, I guess it is in part because of his 2010 season, where Kubica was perceived to be particularly good – that said, I guess the question is whether that is because he did so well or whether the pre-season expectations for Renault were low after a poor 2009 season and because Petrov struggled so much by comparison, thereby creating the perception that Kubica was performing exceptionally.

              If Kubica had been paired with a stronger driver, or if Renault’s results in 2009 had been closer to their results from 2007 and 2008, I wonder if we would necessarily look back on his performances quite as favourably if expectations had not been anchored at a very low level at the start of the 2010 season.

      2. @hahostolze I understand the frustrations that the hoped for fairy-tale Kubica comeback has not materialised but let’s consider the distance Kubica has covered in 2017 in an F1 car and not forget Renault tested Kubica and chose Sainz (implication Kubica was not fast enough for them to take the risk), in 2017 Kubica has run:

        – 100 laps in the R.S. 17 at Hungaroring in August
        – Undefined number of Laps at Silverstone in FW36 during October
        – 100 laps FW40 at Abu Dhabi in November

        Kubica has driven between 3-4 Full GP’s in 2017 F1 car, over a period of 5 months and has not been fast enough on his return for either Renault or Williams to take the risk.

        I hope that Kubica is able to secure the 2018 development drivers seat with Williams, IF the problem for Kubica is related to the tyres with time he may yet make a return. As @geemac states below the team have been clear on performance as a key factor in the decision….let’s see what journalists are able to find out in 2018.

        1. @ju88sy, as you say, he has spent a lot of time on track in 2017 – if you include the tests where he drove an older F1 car, then I make it that he took part in the following tests over the course of the year:
          – 115 laps in a 2012 spec Renault in Valencia in June
          – 90 laps in the same 2012 spec Renault at Paul Ricard in July
          – 142 laps in the mid season test in Hungary in August with the 2017 spec Renault
          – Private test at Silverstone in the FW36 on 11th October (unknown number of laps covered)
          – Private test in Hungary with the FW36 on the 17th October (again, unknown number of laps covered)
          – 108 laps in the post season test in Abu Dhabi with the 2017 spec Williams in November

          Even allowing for the fact that there were tests with older cars of potentially less applicability, that is still a comparatively generous amount of time spent on track preparing himself.

      3. Kubica is confirmed as a third driver. What is all the fuss is about? Sirotkin doesnt deliver they put robert in. Easy

      4. @hahostolze If it was as easy as someone such as yourself determining from your armchair that Kubica is the more talented one, then I would think they would have hired him, as they (Williams) are the ones with the data and would have seen that too. So no wonder from your armchair this must only be about money.

        If RK needed more time…should have been afforded the winter testing to acclimatize…indeed you would have him take HIS time…then that to me would not be a workable solution, and makes me understand why they hired Sirotkin. What if they gave up valuable car time to RK only to find indeed he is no longer as talented as someone else? The limited testing opportunities they have would not be just RK’s time to take.

        “That money prevailed is a damning indictment of F1 right now” is a sentence that could have been uttered, and has been, regarding many aspects of F1 for many many years now.

        1. Good post @robbie 👍

        2. @robbie Exactly, couldn’t have said it better. COTD.

      5. im sorry but i find it hard as a great comeback story, Monger and Zanardi is far far more impressive as a comeback story, they did loose their limbs and still not gave up.

        1. Has monger returned to f4? No. Has zanardi returned to Indycar? No has Kubica returned to F1? Yes!

          1. @kpcart Zanardi did olympics and won gold, drived many other racing series, Monger is already on comeback to singe seaters, they lost their legs and robert did not lose one arm. Monger is a young kid, if i lost my legs i would be devestated, zanardi proved there was more than f1, robert should do the same

    11. To me, Sirotkin is not the wrong person in this line up…

    12. I’ve followed this story very closely as I am, and always have been, unashamedly a Williams fan. To say I am underwhelmed by the team’s 2018 line up is a bit of an understatement, but all I can do as a fan is trust that the team have picked the best driver for the job.

      The team have been pretty adamant that performance has been the deciding factor and while I would have preferred Wehrlein or Kubica to get the seat, it seems that Sirotkin is the quickest of those the team evaluated. Given Stroll’s inconsistency in 2017, I can only hope Sirotkin has what it takes to ring the FW41’s neck session in, session out. That was the biggest frustration for me last season, Stroll was hit and miss and Massa seemed to be calling it in for most of the season, so who knows how good the FW40 was really.

      Also, to be fair to Sirotkin, while he has funds, it is disingenuous to say he got the drive solely because of that. Kubica would have brought money, Wehrlein would have brought an engine cost discount, so pretty much everyone who would have been in the seat would have brought a budget.

      One final thing, the Autosport article on this topic states: “Sirotkin, 22, and Stroll, 19, will form 2018’s most inexperienced F1 line-up.” While I agree they are the youngest line-up, they aren’t the least experienced in F1 terms. That would be Gasly/Hartley are STR who have a combined 9 race starts to Sirotkin/Stroll’s 20 combined race starts.

      1. @geemac People generally consider the STR line-up ‘more experienced’ because Hartley is an incumbent WEC World Champion.

        1. I suppose that is fair @optimaximal, but he does have just 4 starts to his name so he is hardly the most experienced driver out there in F1 terms.

      2. @geemac I doubt Massa was calling it in, and I’m sure the reason Stroll was hit and miss was not just because of his rookie status, but because by all accounts they struggled to get the finicky tires into their narrow optimum operating temperatures. No surprise given that even LH and VB in the WCC winning car had the same struggles on occasion. With Massa’s experience and what seemed to be, as we were to find out eventually, a desire to remain in F1 longer than just for a one year return, I’m sure he was trying his best (both were) and there was little more to be extracted from the car.

        I hope, for everyone’s sake, both within and without F1, that the tires are more reasonable this year, and not nearly so limiting to close and sustained racing. What a shame that has to be a hope and isn’t just a given.

    13. I would of felt alot more comfortable with an experienced but not 100% fit Kubica in the car alongside the one season old Stroll.

      But saying that I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do

    14. Has anyone seen Sirotkin drive in GP2 or other racing categories ?
      How good is he ?

      Please rate him on a scale of Stroll to Alonso.

      1. He is a fine driver. He can be a bit rash but I definitely enjoyed watching him race in the few gp2 races I’ve watched past two years.

      2. @webtel I love your grading scale :D:D:D

        What a classic: ‘On a scale from Stroll to Alonso’

        I bet very few could disagree :P

        1. i would say a Hybrid of Hulkenberg and Kvyat, Good speed but when his nerves gets the better of him, he will crash

      3. I’d rate him a Stroll-and-a-half.

        1. as Stroll rated himself as an 8.5, that means 12.75 for Sirotkin ;)

      4. On a scale of Stroll to Alonso I rate him at a Sirotkin!


        1. *at a reasonable Sirotkin!

      5. Hahaha, gold. I’ve not heard of Sirotkin before but on the Stroll-to-Alonso scale, I am most looking forward to seeing where Alonso performs on that. *Fingers crossed for decent engine*

    15. It’s an uninspiring pairing, but then this is the team that chose Barrichello over Hulkenberg, and Massa over someone who hadn’t decided to throw in the towel already, and that paired Maldonado with Bruno Senna. Needless to say, they have form.

      1. I don’t understand how anyone can be a fan of them when you have Force India in the grid.

      2. True. They’ve been on a downward spiral for about a decade now.

      3. Barrichello was better than Hulkenberg at that time (57>22pts) and even now we can’t say that Hulkenberg is better than Barrichello was at his best.

      4. @olliej Barrichello was way better than Hulkenberg, deserved to be kept, then Maldonado came in and performed far better relative to Rubens than Nico ever did… The Hulk hype has been going on far too long.

        1. @tflb I agree that Maldonado is underrated (or rather over-hated). Barrichello may have beaten Hulkenberg in the latter’s rookie season, but he had been past his best for years and was very much the conservative choice, while Hulkenberg had potential for the future. Maldonado + Hulkenberg in 2012 would have been a great combination in one of Williams’ most competitive cars of the period.
          I am a big Hulk fan but I admit him getting beaten by Perez at Force India has taken the shine off him considerably. Hopefully he can fulfil his potential later in the year, like Button did.

    16. Just be happy it wasn’t Button….

      1. Here-here!!

        1. hear, hear ;)

    17. Lewisham Milton
      16th January 2018, 11:41

      Worst Williams line-up since the 1982 San Marino Grand Prix.

      1. I see what you did there…

        1. Was that the boycott?

    18. So sad, terrible news

    19. Great news..

      ..fir Renault, Haas and McLaren.

    20. petebaldwin (@)
      16th January 2018, 12:12

      I can understand why people are uninspired but Sirotkin is decent. He’s not one of the best 20 drivers in the world but he’s much better than Stroll and will be comfortably ahead by the European races.

      1. I’ll take the other side of that. No way Laurence allows anyone into Lance’s F1 team that can beat Lance in a straight fight. Lance’s F1 Team, d.b.a. “Williams Grand Prix”, must have data that supports Lance can and will be faster than Sirotkin. Otherwise I can’t see them bringing Sirotkin on board.

        1. Actually, judgind from that test they did sirotkin was faster than kubica AND lance…..its open data.

        2. I have enough faith in the bright people at Williams, including the Strolls, that they will not consider this so much a driver vs driver contest, but a work in progress to improve the car. They hardly have the luxury of holding one side back to favour the other side. Surely Lance himself, as well as Laurence and the team, think that he can do big things in F1, so I highly doubt they need to ‘handicap’ the team to make Stroll look better. They wouldn’t fool anyone with that tact. I say if Stroll gets beat, so be it and that will just raise the gauntlet, the game, for Stroll.

          Data that supports Lance can and will be faster? That data would be pretty much impossible to bank on since what one driver does vs another on any given day can change the next day.

        3. Gary I think you greatly overestimate how much influence the Strolls have on Williams.

    21. The issue is not Williams, or Clare Williams, or Paddy Lowe, or Frank Willams, and Williams GP is executing on the only tactical driver plan that will work for them at this point: “Show me the money.”
      The issue is that 50% of the sport’s cash flow (EBITDA) goes to support a capital structure that does zero for the sport, namely goodwill and intangible asset mark-ups, which represent nothing more than the present value of the sport removed by Bernie, Slavica Radic, CVC, et al. As such these funds are not available to help the sport, in this case fund team participation. Combine this with the fact that you have massive spending at the front by 3-4 teams, and you have a team like Williams that is stuck in the middle in a perpetually uncompetitive sporting and business model.

      1. Three or four teams spending massively, with other teams seemingly perpetually uncompetitive, has been F1’s business model going back much further than CVC’s involvement. Liberty has just begun their tenure to alter F1, but I doubt they or anyone is under any illusion that they are suddenly, or ever, going to be able to equilize things such that the ‘have’ teams are no longer more advantaged than the ‘have not’ teams.

        I’ve never been one to agree that lesser teams should get handout after handout…there has to be a line drawn there and at some point they need to be fairly self-sufficient to be in F1. That said I can see the money distribution getting better for them, while at the same time I can see stability in the regs, and cars able to race closer together for longer stints, as things that can bring the appearance of the have teams always squelching the lesser teams, as less obvious. Lesser teams can be brought closer to the fight with some pretty basic and doable changes.

    22. So what happened to the Martini sponsorship age stipulation? Thought they needed at least one driver over 25?

      1. According to media.

        1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          16th January 2018, 21:16

          It wasn’t the media. I don’t think it was absolutely critical they had to have one. But Claire Williams did say that they were struggling to find a suitable driver for 2017 due to this when Bottas left and this age restriction was one of the main reasons why they went for Massa. But I think what the team want had managed to go against what Martini want this time.

        2. Martini(‘s marketeers) also said that (as strongly preferred).

          But this is Martini’s last year, and Williams probably wants to please its own cash flow more than a leaving sponsor.

          When Paddy said “(the team has) conducted a rigorous and exhaustive driver evaluation process.”, I couldn’t stop thinking that it was exhausting only to count those $15 million.