Sergey Sirotkin, Lance Stroll, Williams, Spa-Francorchamps, 2018

2018 team mate battles: Stroll vs Sirotkin at Williams

2018 F1 season review

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One of them has won a big promotion for the 2019 F1 season while the other is without a drive. But which of Williams drivers did best this year?

Lance Stroll, who has followed his father to Force India for next year, pointed to the bottom line when asked how he believed he had performed against his 2018 team mate.

“Well I’ve scored more points,” said Stroll in Abu Dhabi. “I’ve been in Q3, we’ve both been in Q2 the same amount of times.

This is true enough, and not unlike Stroll’s situation last year. In his first season, up against the vastly more experienced Felipe Massa, Stroll’s points haul was the most impressive aspect of his season.

But focusing on the points tally in this case can be misleading. Out of a combined 42 race starts, the pair only registered three points-scoring finishes between them.

By other metrics, Stroll’s season was less impressive. Sirotkin out-qualified him, and while the margin wasn’t as decisive as Massa’s thumping 17-2 lead over Stroll last year, nor does Sirotkin have Massa’s pedigree.

In terms of race results, Stroll had a slight edge, thanks in part ot him gaining more places on the first lap than any other driver. At times he was too aggressive, however, such as when he carelessly lunged at Fernando Alonso in Austin. Sirotkin showed more circumspection, particularly after his own run-in with the McLaren driver at Baku.

Over the final 10 races of the year both drivers saw the chequered flag at every race and the pair were evenly split in terms of finishing position.

Stroll, still a teenager when he began his second full season of F1 this year, was up against a driver almost three years his senior with ample experience in junior categories who was nonetheless making his F1 debut. In order to prove there is something besides his father’s money keeping him in F1, Stroll needed to beat Sirotkin more decisively than he did.

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Lance Stroll vs Sergey Sirotkin: 2018 Williams team mates performance comparison

Season scores

Who was ahead?

The table below shows at which races Sirotkin qualified or finished in front of Stroll:

Sergey SirotkinQ

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Quotes: Dieter Rencken

2018 F1 season

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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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30 comments on “2018 team mate battles: Stroll vs Sirotkin at Williams”

  1. Judging either one of the Williams-drivers this past season was rather difficult due to the machinery.

  2. This is probably a comparison (for the lower teams) where awarding virtual points for all finishing positions would help better assess how well the team’s drivers completed races.

    1. IMO ‘Qualified Ahead’ (single lap) and ‘Laps Ahead’ (racing) are pretty good measures, @phylyp.
      Over 21 races this typically defines well who had the upper hand.
      When 1:1 on those scores, then I prefer the better racer.

      If I disregard the seniority (age & seasons in F1) then Stroll had a slightly better season; even without his Monza front row bonus.

      1. @coldfly – good point, laps ahead probably has the same effect as points for all finishing positions.

      2. IMO ‘Qualified Ahead’ (single lap) and ‘Laps Ahead’ (racing) are pretty good measures

        I don’t quite agree. It’s a stat that, by and large, tends to confirm other key indicators for a driver’s performance relative to another driver. But it gets increasingly ambiguous for drivers further down the order, as it is extremely susceptible to strategy and especially to incidents and technical issues:
        It is not unusual for midfield and backmarker teams to try and maximise their chances by splitting strategies. This regularly results in one driver spending significant portions of the race behind his team mate, despite not necessarily performing worse. Abu Dhabi is a perfect example for that: Take the Sauber duo. Leclerc easily qualifying in the top 10, even shooting up to 4th place after a few laps. Then he made an early pit stop under the VSC to get rid of his Hypersoft tyres. Meanwhile, Ericsson, whose performance had been clearly inferior up to that point, but who was able to start the race on Supersoft owing to his failure to reach Q3, took over the intra-team lead and might’ve been able to keep it for the next 30 laps or so before his own mandatory pit stop. At the end of the day, he would’ve probably led from lap 8 to lap 40, “winning” the team battle 32-23 (or 32-22 by not staying on the lead lap, unlike his team mate, which only reinforces the point I’m trying to make, i.e. how unreliable/paradoxical this stat is).
        As we all probably know, this didn’t happen. Ericsson had to abandon the race after 24 laps due to a car problem, so he ‘only’ gained 10 laps on Leclerc (17-7). The perfect outcome for him (stat-wise) would’ve been a DNF just before his scheduled pit stop, as that would’ve allowed him to be the leading Sauber for over 30 laps.
        Or take the very similar situation at Haas: Grosjean making it to Q2, Magnussen having a pretty underwhelming weekend, but getting to choose the tyres he started the race on. Grosjean, with an early pit stop, got to lead 20 laps (1-7, 42-54), Magnussen 34 (8-41). That’s almost twice as many laps led by the slower driver of that weekend, due to nothing but a quirk of the tyre rules. And to this stat’s nature as a secondary stat, i.e. a stat no one actively seeks to improve.
        And, worst of all, this stat experiences massive swings whenever an accident or happens early in a race, and the way such an accident affects the stat is entirely random. Sometimes a driver crashes out early in the race, and this tends to be beneficial for this stat, as this means he won’t spend a single lap behind his team mate. Conversely, some issues don’t cause a retirement, but confine a driver to the back of the grid for the rest of the race, so that every single lap spent on the track, without deciding to abandon the race, counts. It’s situations like this that tend to shape this stat.

        Therefore, I’m inclined to say that this stat can and should be disregarded. It is only salvageable by a careful race-to-race analysis, and even then there are situations that cannot be faithfully and uncontroversially represented by it. Other stats, such as the average finishing position (13.67 for Stroll, 14.83 for Sirotkin) are much more meaningful.

        This stat will, however, become more telling when applied to the Ferrari and Mercedes drivers, as their race strategies were usually very similar, and the effect of races like Silverstone (where Hamilton spent almost the entire race trailing Bottas after colliding with Räikkönen and spinning on the first lap) is eclipsed by the sheer amount of unaffected races in which Hamilton was able to collect lead laps.

        1. Great post. Average finishing position is a much better metric for the typical non points scorers, especially if you restrict it to races where both finished. Laps led is pretty meaningless anyway – you only need to lead the last lap in this sport!

        2. I totally agree with your post, very comprehensive too.

    2. Hi @phylyp, do you know the subreddit ? I thing that gives a good measure of the backfield.

      1. @m-bagattini – oh yeah, I think it was coldfly who put me on to it some weeks ago, it’s good fun to follow. Not quite the same as points for all finishing positions, because F1.5 uses the same scoring system as F1, but by eliminating the top 6 drivers, I agree it brings the 11-16 drivers also into contention.

      2. This is fast becoming my favorite Reddit thread

        1. @tango – it’s particularly fun to read about Ricciardo joining F1.5 after leaving “another” series :-)

          1. Yeah it is really funny@phylyp :D,

            I beg to differ though. For all we know, Renault will get promoted to F1 and RB Honda will get relegated to F1.5 ;)

            The funniest comment about the switch to me was from Verstappen on the youtube video “truth or lie” they did recently. Exquisite.

            But looking at a grand prix through the F1.5 prisms has made F1 more interesting to me ! So yeepee to it really.

          2. This is my now my favouite thing on the internet (after Racefans)

      3. @hugh11 how does it feel to enter that page and read “Hulkenberg scored the highest number of podiums in the 2018 season?”

        1. @johnmilk The only stats that matter, who cares about F1? F1.5 is all there is. Lewis Hamilton? Never heard of him. Nico Hulkenberg 2018 WDC, most wins, most podiums, even with the second most DNF’s. What a driver.

    3. You can check the Formula 1.5 standings here:

      Stroll has 60 points while Sirotkin has just 34.

  3. Sirotkin was great defending his position. Verstappen like, strict according to the rules but stretching them to the fullest.
    It was hard to pass Sitrokin.
    It was a pity he had so little opportunity to do so.

    But about Sttroll.. i will keep myself tot the self inflicted silence till the first three races in 2019 to pass a judgement.

  4. 2 duds. both only in F1 because of money, and neither showed flashes of brilliance like other drivers in low cars do (ie Leclerc in Sauber). You can compare their position to Alonso in 2001 at Minardi, Alonso made things happen, these kind of pay drivers do not. YES, I GET IT, THEY ARE STILL FAST DRIVERS, but 60 to 80 drivers not in F1 are probably faster, and neither of these 2 excelled enough to deserve any promotion in F1. Stroll has probably just got the most unfair promotion to a midfield team in the last 10 years, no way in any reality would he be driving for Force India next year with out Papa Stroll’s money. Sad thing is, Stroll IS developing as a driver, like any driver does, but he gets a free ride in F1 to improve, while most drivers will never get a chance to drive 1 f1 race, and they also improve as drivers.

    1. I’m sure Stroll would love to hear he’s being compared to Alonso. Really though, it does seem to me from the performances over the last two years of the Williams car that the big problem is the Williams car. It just couldn’t make the ridiculous tires work, something that Alonso likely didn’t struggle with in 2001.

      The other side of the coin to the Stroll money is that it helped keep Williams going, and now it has rescued a team from extinction. As many are now saying, let’s see what Stroll can do in what should be a better car. We all know drivers are coloured by their cars because the car is the much greater factor between car and driver as to what they can do together on the track. And every year there are dozens and dozens of drivers I’m sure that can theoretically, on paper, do a better job than some already in F1, but that’s just the way it is. It isn’t always fair, and there are only so many seats, so even if we were to somehow replace all seemingly sub-par drivers with theoretical better ones, there would still be dozens lacking a ride.

      I’m sure Lance will be feeling some pressure to perform without the excuse of such a terrible car, and at the same time if the RP car is still as relatively good next year as this year he might feel like he’s in a Mercedes compared to what he has had. We’ll just have to see. I’m sure he can’t wait.

      1. It just couldn’t make the ridiculous tires work, something that Alonso likely didn’t struggle with in 2001.

        Not to be pedantic, but the Minardi was a worse car (in relative terms) than the Williams. 2001 was more of a lottery in many respects, but what Alonso did in the Minardi was amazing.

        1. I’m sure, and as it turns out we’re talking about a WDC level driver and I’m not sure anybody has touted Stroll as that. Not sure how you know the Minardi was relatively worse but anyway, we also saw what FA couldn’t do in a McHonda, so I think you get my point that drivers are coloured by their cars and always have been. FA may have impressed in his Minardi but ultimately what did he do with it overall.

  5. Stroll who was in his second season is the one who we should have expected to do better against sirotkin. After all sirotkin is not a huge future talent and only got hired because he brought in the second most amount of money after stroll. It really shows how decidedly average stroll is. He was totally destroyed by massa who at that point had been totally destroyed by alonso and bottas. And who knows how much more effort williams put into making stroll’s car faster compared to making sirotkin faster. After all stroll bought the premium driving package from williams while sirotkin was merely hired to drive the car.

    1. The car was not terrible either. If you account for stroll’s deficit in laptime compared to massa then at least on some tracks the new car was faster. Every article that compares 2018 williams to 2017 car is comparing stroll against massa. We know stroll is slower. To make a comparison that is worth anything at all you’d need to compare stroll 2018 to stroll 2017.

      1. I look at a team that obviously needs money and a car that obviously lacks many things. I hesitate to read much into comparing a rookie in a bad car to a seasoned veteran engrained on the team who still only managed about 40 points in 2017. 2018 showed the car not only hadn’t improved but seemed to go backwards from 2017, slower at some races this year than last. Since the car is 80% to 95% of the equation depending on who you ask, I’ve got plenty of patience to see what Stroll can do in 2019 in what should be a much better car.

  6. Underwhelming drivers on a underwhelming car.
    I think Stroll edges this one out, Sunday is what matters and if he can nullify his deficit on qualifying with good starts, seems to be that is a good workaround. We ha arguably a driver winning a championship because he managed to get of the line better than his teammate.

    Williams hit rock bottom again, so they know what happens next.

  7. I know that almost all the drivers in F1 bring some kind of extra cash to the teams they drive for in one way or another but the blatant seat buyers are – and will always be – vile in my opinion.
    That said, I thought that Sirotkin did an impressive job in a less than impressive car this season and I would like to have seen him stay for at least another season.
    I think he is actually worth a seat if the team is so short of cash that they need to sell it.
    No comment on Lance as I have also signed up to the “Give Lance a Chance” agreement ;)

    1. The Rookie outqqualify the nr. 1 driver says it all. Lance had more points but that was expected.
      A bit dissapointed year for all involved.

  8. As an aside: @keithcollantine, I love that you do these series. Your post-season analysis is one of this sites most important USPs.

  9. Those numbers and table are off. In France Stroll retired (but got classified) and in Austria he finished in front of SIR on track, but got classified behind him (bc of a penalty).

  10. Looking at the stats it’s clear to me that Sirotkin is a bit stronger qualifier but often fails to convert that into finishing ahead of his teammate. Out of 11 such occasions (SIR ahead in qualifying and that both finish the race) only 3 were converted into intrateam victory. Same statistic for Stroll is 3 out of 5. And on some occasions SIR finished several seconds behind Stroll even though he has started ahead. This may indicate poor race craft (especially on first lap) and tire management issues. F1.5 standings seam to confirm that.

    As for Stroll I think it’s either he proved his worth against solid but medicore Perez or he will have to go. He has 2 years for that.

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