Sergey Sirotkin, Robert Kubica, Williams, 2018

Williams chose Sirotkin “simply on merit” – Lowe

2018 F1 season

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Williams chief technical officer Paddy Lowe insisted the team’s new driver Sergey Sirotkin was selected for his driving ability and not the income he could bring to the team.

Speaking at the presentation of the team’s new FW41 yesterday Lowe said Sirotkin was selected after an “incredibly exhaustive” selection process, “the most exhaustive I’ve ever been involved with, involving the technical team.”

Complaints about “pay drivers” are “incredibly naive” – Williams
“Sergey was selected simply on merit for his driving,” said Lowe. “That team know nothing about finances, they’re not involved in it, they weren’t aware of any factors like that. They made the call themselves on the data.”

Sirotkin said the size of the talent pool Sirotkin had been selected from within the SMP Racing scheme demonstrated his credentials as a driver.

“This is not talked about a lot but Sergey comes out of the SMP racing programme,” said Lowe. “This is a kind of driver academy and if you look at the scale of it, it covers Russia, Eastern Europe and Scandinavia, drawing drivers from all of that geography. They have 1,500 drivers on their books at the moment starting from a very young age in karting. A great programme and much bigger than the likes of the one Red Bull run which is better known.”

“Sergey is the first graduate of that programme to get to Formula One and he’s done his full apprenticeship in F3, F2. So I think that he couldn’t be in better shape to hit the ground running as a new driver in Formula One and we have no concerns about how well he’ll perform.”

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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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29 comments on “Williams chose Sirotkin “simply on merit” – Lowe”

  1. Vettel fan 17 (@)
    16th February 2018, 11:31

    In fairness to Williams, Sirotkin did preform well in GP2 during his brief stint.

    1. Stroll also did pretty decently in F3 …

      But I do agree that Sirotkin certainly is not a hopeless driver at all.

  2. Lets wait and watch couple of races before passing judgement. Although except for handful of paydrivers most have either been in league with Maldonado or just lacklustre.

  3. Best joke of the year.

  4. Liar liar, pants on fire!

  5. Sirotkin is understandable, but Stroll is not and just pure money, even Maldonado has better background than Stroll and a lot more achievement.

    1. You clearly didn’t see anything of Lance in the lower categories because if you did you would see that he isn’t pure money & that he was far more impressive than Maldonado was.

      Go watch his 2016 FIA F3 season for instance, A championship he won by the way & in relatively dominant fashion at times including a few brilliant drives from the back of the grid.

      In a totally spec series like F3 talent shines through & Lance showed he had talent. Maldonado spent several years in each category before finding success, Lance turned up in those series & was fast from the off which is again a sign of talent.

      1. F3 is not totally spec series. Strolls paid serious money for williams to engineer their f3 car to go faster. Fia had to make a rule to prevent it from happening again: For example stroll had williams make the mirrors for his car because it is just money…

        1. @socksolid Even if it is a spec series, money still buys you performance. Perhaps in more test work or better mechanics. Money will always buy you something.

          For instance when Piquet was doing GP2 he had a budget of something like 2.5 million while his team mate got “only” 400k.

          1. Stroll spent so much money in FORMULA 3 that fia had to make special rule to prevent such extravagant spending from happening again. It is not about money buying performance but the insane sums stroll spent just in formula 3. It is not fair world and money buys success to some degree but I’m willing to make a bet that nobody never ever has spent as much money developing the car in formula 3 as stroll did. I mean stroll bought his own formula 3 and hired williams f1 team to make the car fast. I’m sure piquet’s 2.5 million is nothing in comparison. And that is gp2 versus formula 3!

          2. In that case I’m really happy that f1 is showing stroll (ok, let’s wait till half season 2018 before saying for sure) won’t be able to buy a title this time around, he just doesn’t have enough talent for that.

      2. Nice try, Lawrence!

  6. I’m still skeptical… but keeping open minded! Lets see how the results go, Stroll has nowhere to hide this season and needs to start performing as… (oh jeez) team leader (***holds head in hands)!
    Sirotkin isn’t the first and probably won’t be the last rookie Williams has taken on, they haven’t all turned out bad! I sincerely hope these two can perform!

  7. Unbelievable team tactics for years now. Surprised they are still around

    1. Well, you are in F1 either thanks to results or thanks to sponsors money.

  8. Guess Williams have been taking lessons off Bernie on treating fans like idiots.

    I get that they need to respond to questions and defend their choice, but the sheer quantity of guff streaming out of there at the moment defies belief. They’ve long been my favourite ‘underdog’ but I’m seriously going off them…

    1. Cannot agree more, what a joke they have managed to make of themselves. I do not have a strong opinion on Sirotkin talents, but william definitely lost me as a fan. There latest pathetic attempt to justify their choices thinking we all are idiots does cement my decision to wish them bad luck going forward. How such an iconic team can be reduced to this is beyond me. Sad.

  9. Williams are trying hard to downplay this pay driver allegations, but the only way it will go away is if Sirotkin beats Stroll by a lot and gets points in races, otherwise too many people will never believe them. we all know he would have been an option at all without the money.

  10. First line – ‘Paddy Lower’ :D

    1. Probably the magic of autocorrect…

  11. I’m sure they involved the tech team. I’m sure they compared speeds of the different drivers. I’m sure it was the most technical driver selection programme lowe has ever seen. I’m sure they know exactly who is how fast in the car.

    But in the end they picked the two drivers who bring the biggest amounts of money. The two facts are not actually exclusive. You can do both. Have the full knowledge and then go for the money.

    Maybe they decided that the half second per lap a competent driver would bring to them would not offset the millions the strolls pour into the team. Instead of paying a salary they can sell their seats. What is the highest they can imagine to achieve in 2018 constructors anyways? 4th, 5th or 6th? For 4th they need to beat renault, mclaren and force india. I doubt they can. So how much higher would they finish with kubica and massa instead of stroll and sirotkin? One place higher? Or maybe take the worse position and take all the money you can get?

    F1 after all is 95% about the car. A bad driver in great car can finish on podiums. A great driver in bad car will still finish last. Which makes a team faster? 60 million dollars or driver who is 0.5 seconds per lap faster?

    In f1 money is also speed. Only issue here is that when you make the cynical calculation as blatantly as williams has been doing it then you need to ask if this is a sport or hobby? Are williams in the business of offfering f1 drives for the rich who are fast enough to offset their lack of speed with financial payments or are they a race team hiring the best drivers they can?

    1. Very good comment, precisely how i see it too. Williams is just showing the absolute truth of modern f1: all about money. If they said so they would have got a lot of compassion from the fan that want a sport showing the best of the best. But publicly denying the obvious make them part of the problem.

      1. I just don’t understand what they are trying to achieve by talking about it. They should just shut up and focus on using that money to build the best car they can. I think in the end their logic of choosing money over skill is perfectly logical and in their position I might do the same thing even if I would not like it. Or like admitting it. It makes no sense to keep that fact in the headlines by talking about it.

        It sucks that selling seats in such way is possible in a sport but the problem is f1, not williams. But for williams finding a driver like stroll who is willing to pay insane sums of money just to buy a seat must be godsend. Williams was (as far as I understand) in serious monetary troubles just couple of years ago. And in the end there are not many teams in f1 who can afford to turn away a driver with 50million dollars per season.

        Things could be far worse for williams. They could still be stuck with renault engines which would have made their 2014 dream season into a nightmare. With that package available at williams the strolls would have probably bought a seat elsewhere. Without the stroll and maldonado money williams might be dead. Even if strolls had kept pouring money into williams the williams’ income would be far lower with the poor results that the renault engine had given to them. Not to mention toto wolff might have not bought a stake in williams then either.

        In the end williams is in good position now to fix their financial issues. They have the best-of-the-grid-mercedes-engines that already puts them ahead of 50% of the field. They have stroll who is pouring millions after millions into the team with only purpose of making the car faster. Not just buying a seat but buying lots of stuff. They can run extensive testing programs with old cars. They have sirotkin who brings in even more money. They have martini and rexona paying to put big stickers on their cars. In the constructor’s they are guaranteed to finish in top 7 ahead of haas, sauber and toro rosso with good results from previous season guaranteeing even more money. After all the only thing they could pay for is to try finish 4th instead of 7th. And they probably can not afford to pay any driver who could take them there after bottas left.

        1. @socksolid What’s not to understand? They get badmouthed by the Kubica fans who cannot accept that another driver was better again. They make it out like only money stopped Williams from hiring Kubica. Which going by all the evidence is plain nonsense.

          1. sources below:

  12. The reality is that every driver on the grid has reached F1 because they received financial support from either family, sponsors, or teams. In some sports you see the best in the world, in F1 you see the best in the world that could afford to do seasons in lower formulas, if you want to see a sport that is a meritocracy then watch snooker.

  13. I don’t think there’s ever been a 3rd driver who had to keep hearing about how the other guy was chosen over him. So unlucky it has to be Robert,of all drivers..

  14. “They must have ran the numbers” – ITB

  15. Hi Paddy, it doesn’t become true the more times you say it.

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