Sergey Sirotkin, Williams, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018

‘If I do a s*** job I’ll be the first to say’: Exclusive interview with Sirotkin

2018 F1 season

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How hard is Sergey Sirotkin preparing for his F1 debut? Speaking exclusively to RaceFans this week he gave us insight into just how busy he’s been.

“I think probably I spent, over the last two months, more days in the factory than other drivers over the year,” the 22-year-old says. “You probably can’t even imagine how much. I spent five consecutive weeks, five days in a row in the factory.”

Ahead of his first full season in F1 with Williams, Sirotkin has moved to a flat in Abingdon on Thames to be closer to the team’s base. “I don’t really have a chance to see the city because I’m there for eight hours just to sleep,” he explains.

His time at the factory has been taken up with meeting the various groups which are developing the FW41 plus a rigorous simulator and training programme.

Sirotkin surprised many by pipping Robert Kubica to the final place on the grid for the 2018 F1 season. Kubica will continue to work for the team as a reserve driver and make three practice outings during the season, all in Sirotkin’s car.

“It’s not ideal for sure,” Sirotkin says when RaceFans asks if missing out on this running will disadvantage him as a rookie.

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“But again also for Robert it’s important. He’s doing quite a lot of simulator – not as much as I do but he’s doing quite a lot. It’s good for him to give the team good feedback between the simulator and the real car. So I understand the point and again it’s not much I can do about it so I just need to play the best we can from where we are.”

Sirotkin is unusual among racing drivers in that he is formally qualified for the technical aspects of his job. He completed a five-year degree in racing car engineering at university in Moscow. He is enthusiastic about the technical side of the job and already has an eye on moving into race team management later in his career.

Sergey Sirotkin, Robert Kubica, Williams, 2018
Williams chose Sirotkin “simply on merit” – Lowe
But after near-misses with Sauber and Renault, Sirotkin has finally landed an F1 race seat. Understandably, he is wary of setting expectations too high.

“First of all I need to do the best I can do,” he says. “I’m sure if I squeeze the best from myself first of all, that’s exactly what I want to do, and I don’t need to jump over my head or do something extraordinary.”

“I know where is my level, I know where is my limitation and I’m sure if I do my best it’s exactly what the team needs and it’s exactly what I want. Not to exaggerate, not to over-impress or something.”

Williams’ driver line-up for 2018 has been the subject of some criticism. Sirotkin and team mate Lance Stroll are young, inexperienced and are associated with financial backers – the latter point being one the team has tackled head-on.

Sirotkin faces added challenges. He had little opportunity to race last year while he worked for Renault. And his benchmark for 2018 will be an inexperienced, younger team mate whose rookie campaign last year featured a couple of highs amid many lows.

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Sirotkin wants the focus to be on himself, rather than comparisons with his team mate, when it comes to assessing his performances this year.

Sergey Sirotkin, Sauber, Sochi Autodrom, 2014
Russia’s new F1 driver: Seven things you should know about Sirotkin
“I know where is my level, I know where is my strong side and probably my weak side,” he says. “Any result we’ve done so far you always know where you’ve done really well or where there’s still room to go [better] or a mistake or something which was not super-ideal. So first of all it’s going to be about criticising myself.”

“Of course there’s going to be situations like this through the year, for sure, we are not gods here we are all human. So for sure there’s going to be a situation like this but I have a very good relationship with all the engineers and we’ll work on it to be sure from each side we do the best.”

“For sure I’m not trying to cover myself,” he adds. “If I’m doing a shit job I will be the first one who will be out there saying ‘sorry guys, you were right, I didn’t deserve to be here’. But I’m sure I will prove opposite to it.”

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Author information

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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41 comments on “‘If I do a s*** job I’ll be the first to say’: Exclusive interview with Sirotkin”

  1. Straightforward, I like it.
    He seems to have his feet on the ground which is good.

    Taking into account who he was running against to get that seat some hate was inevitable, we lost a love story that not even Nicholas Spark could have thought of

    For sure, English isn’t is native language, but for sure it is understandable, and for sure it is nice to have so many “for sures” in a sentence, since Vettel went the Kimi way by starting every sentence with a Bwoah and learnt how to say definitely, which for sure is more appealing, but for sure it isn’t as noticeable.

    1. deMercer (@)
      2nd March 2018, 13:41

      For sure, he is a good replacement for Massa with respect to the for sure’s.

      1. Curb (@curbshifter)
        2nd March 2018, 18:47

        You know, for sure it was Rosberg?

        1. for sure for sure is an epidemica in the F1 world, Massa for sured a lot too, but it seems Rosberg is also a very good for surer.

          For sure we will see more in the future.

          And for sure @keithcollantine has some data on this

          1. Even more, for sure there’s Marc Surer…

    2. I don’t like it, to be sure I’ll have to wait for a live interview.
      Nobody likes an arrogant prickly f1 driver, let alone a new one. Is he already saturated 2 months into the job?
      He worked 5 day weeks for 5 weeks, that’s nothing compared to working class people, the ones reading this article.
      Anyhow Nice interview.

      1. @peartree He doesn’t come across as arrogant or prickly at all, rather down-to-earth and honest – that’s just you with pre-conceived prejudice I think. Regarding work, yes it’s nothing compared to most people, but compared to most F1 drivers, that is a lot!

        1. @tflb His attitude, his stance and words show that he’s resigning to his image as someone lucky to be in f1, and a pay driver. I say resigning because he’s prickly about certain questions, so he’s trying to prove himself, yet he doesn’t have 100% belief in his merit.
          IMO he’s as qualified as the grid’s average. I don’t think he has to live to what YOUR prejudice says, and that is that he’s a pay driver, with a down i earth approach living the dream. That’s unfair, because there are less talented drivers in f1, but the media and fanbase uses THEIR prejudice only on this guy.

          There are many pay drivers in f1 but some are great drivers and great talents.

          1. @peartree Actually my opinion, or ‘prejudice’ if you want to put it that way, is that he is a good driver who probably deserved a shot regardless of backing. I don’t really go in for the whole anti-pay-driver malarkey. Also I don’t agree that he is resigning to his image; maybe he’s just not as full of himself as most sportspeople are. A bit of self-deprecation never goes amiss I say.

  2. I think he is going destroy Stroll.

    Why is Sirotkin’s incorrect sentence structure being repeated in this article? Please don’t do that. It’s not

    1. nice to read.

      (And why does this reply system make you accidentally post in the middle of a sentence?)

    2. So you think his battle with Stroll will be a walk-over?
      @keithcollantine seems to agree:

      team mat Lance Stroll

      1. Priceless 😆

    3. One can hope…

  3. The more I hear from this kid the more I like him.

    He is clearly intelligent and has thrown himself into the job and the team. I think he has pretty much got where he is on merit. Sure backing helps but most drivers on the grid have backing in one form or another. He has had results in the junior categories and has clearly performed well in his testing duties with both Renault and Williams so I am keeping an open mind about him and hope he does well.

  4. He may not like it or want it, but comparisons with team-mate(s) is always going to be the first consideration.
    It is shaping up to be an interesting season, even if that German team runs away with it.
    Observation and question from the first two day of running …. in the videos of the various drivers, it looked like Alonso was intentionally driving off-line. Yes, slower and he was on Med tyres. Maybe this is blatant optimism on my part, but if someone wanted to hide their pace, this is a great way to do it. Vandoorn has been lighting things up but on softer tyres.
    Any one else see this or am I delusional.?
    Here’s hoping that the Orange guys have something in hand.

    1. deMercer (@)
      3rd March 2018, 11:58

      that German team

      @rekibsn LOL

  5. Good luck to Sergey and Williams

  6. Good said Sirotkin. I hope he do well in his first year en formula 1. Look like a smart driver.

  7. Seems to have a goo attitude and work ethic. I’m wondering if his degree in race car engineering will be an asset to him over the years in understanding setups and car development direction better.

    All the best to him! I’ll be rooting for him in the Sirtkin vs Stroll battle.

    1. Talent versus money… “for sure” talent should win, but realistically…. not so “sure”?

    2. Yeah it will certainly be interesting and fun to see. This not meant as argument, just discussion, but I would say that Williams and the two drivers are really in a bigger battle to improve the car. Of course comparisons between the drivers are going to happen (probably way more by fans than themselves although neither driver will want to be bested by the other), but overall their main mandate needs to be to work together to progress the car. I’ll say that for any team not in the top 3…not realistically fighting for wins. Sirotkin’s engineering background can’t possibly hurt and it should make him good at providing feedback to the team.

      I also think it is only fair to point out that the Stroll money that so many despise because they think he doesn’t belong and is only there because of Dad’s money, will help Sirotkin just as much as Stroll, and Massa last year. It obviously hasn’t been a magic bullet for them, so as I say their main mandate should be to maximize their limited resources, push each other for sure, naturally, but the last thing they should be doing is what happened to FI last year with drivers taking each other out. Race hard sure, as much as the car will allow, but don’t take each other out and make it about themselves. By no means do I think Sirotkin should pussyfoot around Stroll because of the family money, but he should be grateful and I’m sure he is, that the money is there.

      1. Likely why they’ve retained Kubica – to help the car development with an experienced bum.

  8. I look forward to watching him to see if all the work at the factory has paid any dividends. Also, to see how self critical he can be during the season. I don’t set too high a priority on that (except for true screw-ups) as it is the nature of most highly competitive people not to over-critize themselves. On the negative side, I really worry about Williams ability to provide a competitive car, they seem to be a bit adrift lately.

  9. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    2nd March 2018, 15:09

    As long as you don’t go above 8.5 out of 10, you should be good Sergey! Just be mindful that if you do any better than 8.5, you’ll be out of a ride next year:-)

  10. Seems everyone has (finally) turned on Sirotkin. Lovely piece of work of you @keithcollantine to give him this exclusive. Site is going in the right direction.

    1. Interestingly, I never noticed the exclusive bit in the title. Well done, RaceFans!

  11. I didn’t know he had formal education in race car engineering! Along with his impressive work attitude and his straight talking demeanor, this fact alone makes me excited about his future. Would love to see him in an administrative role 20 years down the line, with his additional experience as a driver.

  12. If he fails he can’t hide by outright admitting it. Irrelevant since his yard stick is by how many tenths he does beat Stroll not ifs and buts.

  13. “You probably can’t even imagine how much. I spent five consecutive weeks, five days in a row in the factory.”

    I had to laugh at this one. Sergey will be able to swap horror stories with Lance about those terrible summer jobs caddying for a long weekend at Daddy’s friend’s resort. I’m sure he has had a taxing few months, but it’s not like he’s been down in the saltmines of real life drudgery and dangerous work. Only eight hours of sleep!?! A night!?! :)

  14. I hope he will remember what he has said.

  15. Im concerned about how how easy he thinks it is. Something about him makes my BS detector go off.
    A bit too confident at this stage makes me wonder (as l know little of this guy) could he be the next Schumacher? Or is he a flash in the pan ?

    1. Where did he say it was easy?

      1. Sergey Martyn
        3rd March 2018, 6:59

        I believe it’s just a misunderstanding. Of course it’s not that easy, I think he meant – if you do not set high goals, you won’t achieve anything at all.

  16. Nice bit about him with engineering school – no question that will, and does, help him immensely with technical feedback.

  17. Nice to hear from him. Didn’t know he studied racing car engineering. It’ll be nice to see him perform this year against anothrr rookie basically.

  18. Studied race car engineering ……… How good were his tutors or the course content?

    1. Sergey Martyn
      3rd March 2018, 7:19

      I think there are quite a lot of good tutors in a country that developed Mach 20 rockets and nuclear engines for cruise missiles. Watch Williams using power units with MGU-N (N stands for Nuclear) soon! :-)
      Jack Brabham and Bruce McLaren didn’t have university education but they were not only legendary racers but built race cars.

    2. @tenerifeman, I understand that it was the Moscow State Automobile & Road Technical University, which I believe is a fairly highly regarded technical institution in Russia (and I believe that it would make him the most highly technically qualified driver on the grid).

  19. For sure. You know. Basically. Either way.

Comments are closed.