Sergey Sirotkin, Sauber, Sochi Autodrom, 2014

Sirotkin to drive for Renault in practice at Sochi

2016 Russian Grand Prix

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GP2 racer Sergey Sirotkin will drive for Renault in the first practice session for the Russian Grand Prix, the team has announced.

The 20-year-old previously drove a Sauber during first practice for the inaugural race at the Sochi track in 2014. He will drive Kevin Magnussen’s car in the opening session on Friday.

Renault said Sirotkin has joined the team as a test driver with a “long term development plan”. Racing director Frederic Vasseur described him as “one of the most promising drivers from the junior categories”. Sirotkin finished third in GP2 last year and previously competed in the Formula Renault 3.5 championship, scoring a single win in Moscow.

“We saw that he was the most promising rookie in the GP2 Series last season, where he achieved a race win and podiums, and for 2016 he is very well placed to fight for the title,” said Vasseur.

“For Renault Russia it is a good opportunity to harness the growing popularity of Russian motorsports,” he added.

Sirotkin said his opportunity is “the moment that all young racing drivers are working towards”.

“I am determined to learn as much as I can, as quickly as I can, doing the best possible job for the team while driving in free practice one”.

Sirotkin has joined Vasseur’s former team ART for his second year in GP2. Renault’s young driver roster also includes Sirotkin’s GP2 rivals Oliver Rowland and Nicholas Latifi. The latter is also in the frame for a practice run later this season.

2016 Russian Grand Prix

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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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23 comments on “Sirotkin to drive for Renault in practice at Sochi”

  1. “We saw that he was the most promising rookie in the GP2 Series last season, where he achieved a race win and podiums, and for 2016 he is very well placed to fight for the title,” said Vasseur.

    Haha.

    1. @xtwl Are you agreeing or disagreeing with what he said?

      1. @keithcollantine I read the article whilst thinking about Markelov his results, not Sirotkin, wrong Russian. So I do agree with Vasseur.

  2. Let’s put aside his previous FP1 for a second. It’s his home event, he had a really strong rookie GP2 campaign and should challenge for the title this year. Had a strong 3.5 campaign in 2014 as well. I don’t see why there is so much negatively about this?

    1. I agree that we have seen far less promising guys get fp sessions, especially at their home GPs. Sirotkin’s season in GP2 certainly showed he has promise.

      On the other hand, Palmer won the series and still gets remarks of being at Renault only because of money.

      1. Agree. Heck, Karthikeyan got a race for HRT in India. I don’t think anyone can complain about a GP2 race winner getting an FP session

      2. @bascb, with regards to Palmer, the criticism is aimed more at his performances in the previous three seasons before he won the title and the fact that he has been beaten in the past by several driver who are accused of being in F1 because they are pay drivers.

        He was ranked in 28th place, out of 32 drivers, in his rookie year – by way of comparison, Gutierrez, who was also a rookie that year, finished in 13th place and Palmer’s team mate, Josef Král, finished in 15th place. In 2012 he was 11th – an improvement, but still three places below his team mate, Marcus Ericsson – whilst in 2013, whilst he did improve again to 7th in the rankings, he was beaten by Nasr in the first year that Nasr drove a GP2 car (despite the current regulations giving more experienced drivers a major advantage over rookie driver).

        Now, figures like Gutierrez and Ericsson have been dismissed by some as being poor quality drivers who do not deserve to be in the sport. Given that Palmer was beaten by those drivers in his junior career, you can see why some figures question whether he really earned his place in F1 on merit.

        1. @anon whilst you have a valid point, Marcus Ericsson was in GP2 for 4 years, like Palmer, but he didnt end up winning GP2, best championship finish being 6th in his 4th year. So while Ericsson is starting to improve a bit, I still rate Palmer as being far more competitive than Ericcson.

          Gutierrez on the other hand, inaugural GP3 Champion, 13th in his rookie GP2 season and 3rd in his 2nd year (beating Chilton, van der Garde, Palmer, Haryanto, Nasr and Ericsson in the process) and arrived in F1 in very poor fashion. Its like he was suited to every junior formula car, but never quite clicked to an F1 car.

          And Nasr was in his 2nd year in GP2 when he was Palmer’s teammate at Carlin. He finished 10th in his rookie season racing for DAMS. His teammate was season champion/5th year entrant Davide Valsecchi (who we know as the driver who Lotus overlooked for Heikki Kovalainen).

  3. Hm, ok. Sirotkin having a go at the russian track. Not a big surprise. And if it helps sell some cars in Russia (the market not being all that great recently) and fills up the coffers, I guess there is nothing to lose for Renault really.

    Its not as if the lost track time for Magnussen would have helped them finish in the points.

    As for whether Sirotkin is up to the task – he did show some solid pace, but I would not say that his results make him a shoe in for a future F1 drive, rather it will be what landed him the opportunity with Sauber years back and then failed to turn up bringing Sauber in a further downwards spiral.

    1. @bascb, I might be mistaken, but I believe that the financial restrictions placed on Russian institutions due to the conflict in Ukraine meant that Sirotkin’s sponsors were unable to pay Sauber, hence why they cancelled the contract. Given how Sauber treated Simona de Silverstro though – where they just shook her down for sponsor money and then pushed her out the door – Sirotkin probably wouldn’t have fared much better even if his sponsors had paid.

      1. not quite Anon. The money failed to arrive months before that happened, apparently because his ties had lost favour in the Kremlin.

        As for Simona, again, the money did not arrive as planned /agreed. I do agree with you that had the sponsors actually delivered on their promises, any driver with the Sauber team would have been in a solid position.

    2. Vanderspace01
      28th April 2016, 6:04

      “In other news Lada sales tripled over the weekend…”

  4. Why are people incredulous? Did nobody watch GP2 last year? He did a great job, and he’s still very young, Vandoorne is relatively old at 24.

  5. Will Kevin ever get a normal race-weekend? Seems a bit odd that they, given what happened in China, won’t give him all the training this weekend…

    1. Agreed, a factory team like Renault should not need the money.
      Or let anything hinder a better Sunday race result.

  6. I guess Dad already owns three homes in Chelsea, Knightsbridge and Kensington, so why not.

    1. Are you talking about Palmer’s dad?
      Guess Palmer Sr is a good connection to have but if junior keeps struggling behind the Manor’s for too many races and come in dead last, then Renault will have to consider replacing him e.g. with this Sirotkin for 2017?

  7. I think he’s growing into his talent, having been pushed too hard too soon… all that stuff with Sauber when he was 17 was overwhelming and probably had a negative impact on his development. He looked very good in GP2 last year.

    Don’t think he’s a Vandoorne-level hopeful, but I’m far more optimistic about his future than I was a few years ago.

  8. He really was great to watch in GP2 last year. Could be worse

  9. He’s still younger than every active racing driver other than Verstappen. He beat far more vaunted GP2 rookies like Pierre Gasly and Alex Lynn in the championship standings last year, with a team that’s nowhere near as consistently good as DAMS.

    This is a different driver than the one most F1 fans were wringing our hands over three years ago. This is a driver who deserves to be here on the merit of his ability.

  10. What about Rowland? He wins FR3.5, gets put in Renault academy; Latifi comes 12th, gets future FP1 drive. Why!?!?!?!

    1. And Rowland comfortably beat his teammate, Jazeman Jaafar, who was in his 3rd year and came 8th and Latifi gets beaten by his rookie teammate, Egor Orudzhev, who came 5th. Where’s the logic!?!?!?

      And Latifi came 11th, not 12th. My bad

    2. @mattypf1 Latifi probably gave them a few hundred thousand reasons for an FP1.

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