Sergey Sirotkin, Williams, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018

Sirotkin was in severe pain from “dangerous” seat problem

2018 Spanish Grand Prix

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Sergey Sirotkin reveals he has been struggling with a seat problem all year which left him in “massive” pain during the Spanish Grand Prix.

The Williams driver said an attempt to fix the problem by altering his seat position appears to have made it worse.

“I started to struggle [with], let’s say it this way to not upset anyone, [a] problem with seat comfort,” said Sirotkin.

“We had it since the beginning of the year and we never really [had] the opportunity to properly look and improve it. But today it was… we did a couple of changes and I’m not sure they were [right].”

Sirotkin said the pain was “really massive, I was really struggling just staying in the car.”

“It’s not really the seat position,” he explained, “it’s some bits which helps you not to move around in the car which we are struggling [with] a lot all year. We reached the worst point of that [in the race] and for sure the way it was it’s just dangerous and not race-able at all.”

He described his drive to 14th place as “the toughest race I ever did by far – I wouldn’t even call it a race.”

Sirotkin lost ground at the start because of the turn three crash and had a spin later on.

“I had a good start [and] a good launch, but then obviously I was caught in turn three with those spins and the crash ahead. I was just in a position where I completely couldn’t see where I am going.

“I saw that I [was] just about to hit the car ahead, it was so smoky that I just didn’t see anything, I needed to completely stop to avoid the crash. Then once I obviously passed it I was the last car by a mile.

“And then obviously I made a mistake on the restart after the [Virtual] Safety Car and spun the car,” he added. “We just decided that from where we’d been anyway it’s not that we could do much so we decided why don’t we pit for the extra set of tyres just in case [something happened].”

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Author information

Gabriele Koslowski
Gabriele Koslowski first began following Formula 1 during the early noughties, and is a director of a Belgian motorsport media company. During the past...
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 “Sirotkin was in severe pain from “dangerous” seat problem”

    1. First of all, I’d like to say welcome to Gabriele Koslowski to RaceFans.
      Secondly, I had once said Williams had turn into incompetent team which lead some others to complain about that comment, but this is just proving I might be right.

      1. I echo the welcome from @ruliemaulana to Gabriele. Also, its nice to have the author’s mini-bio at the bottom as well. Minor quibble – it seems like the hyperlink in the mini-bio (“Read more about XYZ, find all their articles…”) doesn’t wrap, making its display on mobile phones look odd.

        1. You’re right. I was wondering why articles were only now on the left side of the screen

      2. @ruliemaulana, mind you, there have been a few rather successful designers who have done the same thing.

        In his early career at March, Adrian Newey was notorious for making extremely uncomfortable and cramped cars with pretty extreme seating positions. Gugelmin complained that the March 881 and CG891 both had very cramped cockpits, whilst the seating position of the CG901 left Gugelmin in such severe pain that he often had to be lifted out of the car by his mechanics. I believe that Gugelmin complained that one reason why the later cars performed fairly badly compared to the 881 was because both him and Ivan Capelli were in too much discomfort most of the time to be able to push the limits of the car – a complaint not dissimilar to Sirotkin’s experience now by the sounds of things.

        1. Interesting. May also explain why March fired Newey even though it seemed that they couldn’t do much better for design talent.

        2. but Newey’s cars are for the most part good. This Williams is a joke

          1. yes. they could put a sofa on it to make their drivers comfortable at least. wouldnt change the pace much

    2. I’m kind of puzzled how a safety harness can cause this much of a problem – it is quite a standard piece of kit, and its mounting within the tub/seat should also not be rocket science. Sirotkin also doesn’t seem to be unusually proportioned (I mean his height!) so I’m at a loss to understand why this is such a persistent problem. A one-off, totally understandable, but they seem to be taking as long to fix it as their aero deficiencies.

      1. @phylyp

        Sirotkin also doesn’t seem to be unusually proportioned (I mean his height!)

        Genuine LOL!

    3. That 2018 Williams, such a pain in the ass to drive it. :)

      1. @afonic If only he drove for Haas, what a headline…

        1. Ask Hulk or Gasly. For them there’s a big pain in the Haas.

    4. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      14th May 2018, 15:54

      If he was in severe pain, he should have stopped. If his seat problem was dangerous , he should have stopped.

      Either these words are over emphersizing the siuation, or he shouldn’t have been racing in the situation he was in.

      1. Agree completely! Perhaps it is just the language of a non-native English speaker, but if it was DANGEROUS, he AND THE TEAM each had a responsibility to stop!

    5. Maybe Kubica left his seat in the Williams after practice, making a point as to who’s care it should be?!

      1. That was my first thought!

    6. And there I was thinking his subterranean pace was due to running out of non-Supersoft tyres, and then not getting any performance out of those. I have to admit that his explanation sounds more plausible.

    7. Wait, seating is one of the first thing teams do to a driver and as we all know seats in F1 are made for specific individual. How can Williams fail at such basic routine for F1 team?

      1. because Williams is but a shadow of once glorious team

    8. The problem for Sirotkin is he was sitting on his wallet and had forgot to turn over the cash to Williams.

    9. I was harshly critical of Sirotkin’s choice over Robert Kubica. But I do feed for Sirotkin. I think if he spend the year as a test/reserve driver he could have gained valuable experience, especially if he had someone like Robert to learn from. Instead, he was put in an awful car, when he clearly wasn’t ready to deliver, and now his reputation is in the negative. His credentials were never stellar, but I do think he had some potential. But now? Everyone has egg on their face, Williams, Sirotkin, his sponsors, Claire, Frank.

      1. He was a test driver for Sauber and Renault in the past years, he should have enough experience to at least be on the same pace as Stroll.

    10. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      14th May 2018, 20:56

      Well, I get the feeling that the only reason why Williams didn’t keep Massa was because of the Money he was wanting. Experience and skill wise, he seriously should still be there. Bottas is showing to be close to Hamilton in his 2nd year with Mercedes and other than in qualifying, Massa wasn’t really that far off Bottas in his 3 years together. Although I thought the second half of 2016 from Massa didn’t look great. But 2017 was really solid and I think he was a solid driver that year. Despite the car being terrible this year (which I think it is), I think Massa would have brought home enough points for Williams not to be last in the constructors at this moment in time. out of the drivers that were racing last year and no longer this year, I think Massa certainly was the best. He may not have had much more left in him, but another year at Williams surely will have helped them. His feedback information on the radio IMO sounds far more detailed and helpful than most of the drivers in fact from when I’ve heard him. I obviously don’t know what Williams did think of him, but despite the money, I think that have made a big mistake in not keeping him.

      1. I think at this point everyone knows Williams MO with pay-drivers. Regarding your point on Massa, I agree they should have kept him over Sirotkin. However, I would understand why any team would want to replace Massa. While Felipe was a reliable driver who could bag points, it was also very clear what he could do. He would bag points, but would probably never get another odd podium like Bottas did. Massa was replaceable, but not for a rookie with no credentials. It would have made sense to have Kubica, Kvyat, or Wherlein.

        1. Dont forget that during the hybrid era, apart from the 3 big teams, Massa is the only driver to be on pole position.

          Its sad that a team like Williams bends over backwards to get money from drivers, and then spend it to make a car that is slower than what they had last year. What a waste of money! They should have raced the old car in the first 4 races. Massa and Kubica could have been brilliant in Baku in the 2017 Williams.

          Every decision Williams have done since becoming a corporation is a disaster.

        2. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          15th May 2018, 10:20

          I can’t say any of the drivers you mention would have been better than Massa. massa has significantly more experience than those 3 drivers and missed out on an extremely likely 2nd place or possible win in Baku last year. I don’t think Kubica will have been that good really. They did so much testing with him and probably didn’t go with him because they didn’t think he was good enough. The odd practice session doesn’t really reflect that he would be far better than the current 2 at Williams.

          Another reason why I think massa would be better than him is purely because Massa has at least been in F1 for the last 4 years with Williams in the totally different hybrid era to what kubica was in. While Kubica hasn’t been in for significantly longer. I’m not saying he’ll be bad, but I think Williams would have chosen him if he had the talent.

          If Srotkin fails to improve, maybe they will replace him next year. As at least Kubika is with the team as a reserve driver, so will be getting the training required to race again. This may help him get better for next year. But purely for the money, given how bad their car is now, They should probably keep Stroll for his income. That said, although Stroll is terrible in qualifying, almost all of his race starts have actually looked good this year. If Stroll keeps this up in the race and improves his qualifying, He could be at least reasonable next year , especially if Williams manage to improve the car.

        3. @thegianthogweed Also it’s a possibility Williams already know their chassis is going to be really bad this year, simply by knowing if they still haven’t fixed last year’s issues, and calculating between picking pay driver money or picking a driver that can bring them points. Other candidates like @ajpennypacker said is faster than Sirotkin but not that fast enough to get Williams more money from the prize than what Sirotkin paid. I don’t think this is a good decision because they really need a driver that can build the car but obviously Williams can only afford thinking in really short term at the moment.

    11. Levente (@leventebandi)
      14th May 2018, 22:19

      So it seems, that Russia still prints the rubels on hard paper?

    12. Mickey's Miniature Grandpa
      15th May 2018, 14:43

      Perhaps the next words out of Claire’s mouth need to be “Toto, if we run Wehrlein for the rest of the year, can we have your suspension?”

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