Having lost his seat at Williams for next season, Sergey Sirotkin says the final race of the year couldn’t have gone much worse.
Sirotkin has had a largely anonymous year, driving what was arguably the slowest car on the grid in 2018. Having been reasonably competitive in GP2 before graduating to F1, a solitary point was his reward for this season, courtesy of P10 at Monza.
However, with Williams leaving their driver decisions until very late this year, Sirotkin has found himself out of a job for 2019. The team opted for Mercedes young driver George Russell, and the returning Robert Kubica, who also brought a new sponsor in the form of PKN Orlen.
With just one solitary race left after the announcement in which to show his mettle, Sirotkin’s race couldn’t have gone much worse. Starting from P19, he spent the day outside the points and eventually came home P15.
“It was a really bad race.” said a dejected Sirotkin afterwards.
“I didn’t get the best start and straight away I lost a lot of ground and wasn’t in the best position for the next sequences of corners. I had problems with the car overheating so for one third of the race I had to do massive cooling. It was such a painful race, such a painful stint. I was trying my best to cool it down as quick as I could but as other cars pitted and came out behind me, I tried to fight, protect and cool the car at the same time and it was a mess.”
“I didn’t enjoy it. It has been a very, very painful race. I really wanted to enjoy it and it’s just so painful to finish the season like this.”
With no plans in place for 2019 as a result of the lateness of the decision, Sirotkin’s backers SMP Racing now begin the process of trying to find a seat for him in another series. In a statement released by SMP, they explained that they remain fully committed to Sergey as they felt his performances were masked by the poor Williams car: “We were unpleasantly surprised by the level at which the team was at the beginning of the season. The progress of the car was also not high enough. Despite this, Sergey spent a good season in the conditions in which he found himself, gave 100% and fully completed the tasks assigned to him. We are pleased with his work and are currently considering various options for continuing Sergei’s career. He will definitely spend a lot of races with SMP Racing. We will announce our decision soon.”
Sirotkin, reflecting on his year, said that he felt he did the maximum that could be achieved with what he was given to work with: “It was a very long and difficult year. I did not always succeed as I would like. I continued to work, gave all my strength and put my whole soul in order to achieve a well-deserved result. And to admit honestly, I believe that in these circumstances we managed adequately. Thank you all for your support, for your faith and kind words. Thank you for the attention that I received during the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi, it really touched me. This year will remain in my memory forever! ”