Williams are having the worst season in their history, 4 points and plum last in the constructors standings is appalling from a team with 9 constructors titles to its name but yet they have failed to win a single championship since 1997 with Jacques Villeneuve. The team is far from the richest on the grid and things are looking more desperate for the team financially thanks to them losing their Martini sponsorship and potentially losing Stroll’s backing too, but Williams have a secret weapon at their disposal; Sergey Sirtokin.
Sergey is the only driver on the grid to have failed to score a point this season and has a season best finish of 13th in Austria but is it any wonder when you consider the performance of the car this season? A lot of people question if he has a place on the grid and only has a Formula One drive thanks to his SMP backing but this would do Sergey a disservice. In his two seasons competing in the GP2 championship he finished 3rd overall, won 3 races and claimed 5 pole positions. During his time in the junior series he showed promising speed and consistency albeit a few mistakes made in his second season costing him a title chance.
The Russian also comes with a high level of technical knowledge courtesy of his degree which is part of SMP Racing’s driver programme. His degree is in Race Car Engineering which is a rarity for Formula One drivers to have these days and has no doubt helped them understand and set up what is a very tricky car. Earlier this year Sergey talked about what the programme involved: “The research work I did was basically the aspects where you take into account the setup work, the different weekends including different conditions and extra things on top of it, how you build up with a base with the certain conditions throughout the race weekend itself on the example of an F1 car” When Williams had their struggles at Silverstone when both of their cars spun off thanks to a stall at the rear of the car; Sergey’s feedback without a doubt would of helped Williams understand the problems sooner.
A lot of people have criticised Williams’ decision to sign two young and inexperienced drivers but as Paddy Lowe explains it’s not where the issues are. “We haven’t given them the equipment this year to fight for points, which is unfortunate but within that, they have stayed disciplined”. Despite the poor performance of the car Sergey has put in some very solid performances this season qualifying 13th in Monaco only for that result to be squandered thanks to a penalty due to the team fitting the tyres too late on the stating grid and then put in a solid qualifying in Germany outperforming the car and teammate Lance Stroll to qualify 12th.
Its difficult to see where Sirtokin’s true pace is as Lance is still an unknown in only his second season but even he has raised his game this season and is no slouch, both drivers looked matched on race day but Sergey has the edge over his Canadian teammate in Qualifying. Williams may well write off this season, they will not realistically catch Sauber in the constructors standings and have a great opportunity to turn things around next season thanks to regulation changes but one thing is for certain, Sergey Sirtokin will only help their cause thanks to his technical knowledge which will help the team develop its cars in the coming seasons. Sergey will be fundamental in the cars development and we have already seen Williams slowly get better and better throughout this season. Williams find itself in a desperate situation but they have all the tools at their disposal to move back up the grid.
Williams will be in no rush to confirm its driver lineup for next season with multiple drivers linked to the team including George Russell and Robert Kubica but Williams did confirm that Sergey was on a “multi-year” deal at the beginning of the season when they announced him and he has certainly done enough to warrant a second season with the team and will only be helped by his SMP backing. He may be the only driver on the gird without a point to his name this season but Sergey Sirtokin has been one of this seasons understated performers.
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