Sergey Sirotkin, Williams, Circuit of the Americas, 2018

2018 F1 driver rankings #20: Sirotkin

2018 F1 season review

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It’s perhaps harsh to rank Sergey Sirotkin last of the 20 drivers at the end of his first season in F1. After all, the Williams FW41 was a lousy car to make your debut in.

It was a painful one for Sirotkin in the opening races of the season, as his harness focused too much of the forces generated by the car in a sensitive area. The physical pain the car caused him was fixed within a few races, but by the end of the year the motivation-sapping reality of his first full F1 season has clearly taken its toll.

Sirotkin’s final race weekend was a miserable one, and not just because the team began it by announced Robert Kubica will take his place next year – he struggled badly with overhearing in the races.

The potential for a better campaign was clearly there as Sirotkin was fractionally the quicker of the two Williams drivers over a single lap. He won the qualifying battle 12-8 and averaged a slim six-hundredths of a second quicker than his team mate.

Sergey Sirotkin

Beat team mate in qualifying12/20
Beat team mate in race7/17
Races finished18/21
Laps spent ahead of team mate448/1046
Qualifying margin-0.07

He impressed in Monaco, where he was six-tenths quicker than Stroll – his best of the year. The German Grand Prix weekend began well too with 12th on the grid, but an oil leak thwarted his race, by which point Stroll had already got ahead by virtue of the pit stop ‘undercut’.

Ultimately Stroll bagged the better results of the pair and it wasn’t just a case of him happening to be ahead when more of their rivals retired. Sirotkin managed three top-13 finishes, less than half as many as his team mate.

With a better, more consistent car we might have seen more from Sirotkin. This was a tough year for a new driver in a Williams – a thought which must prey on George Russell’s mind.

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Over to you

Wasn’t that bad a rookie season for Sirotkin. He was consistently quicker than his more experienced team mate in qualifying although he does need to work on his race starts and craft. He actually put in strong performances that were sometimes masked by pure bad luck. I though his qualifying performance in Monaco was outstanding.

What’s your verdict on Sergey Sirotkin’s 2018 season? Which drivers do you feel he performed better or worse than? Have your say in the comments.

Add your views on the other drivers here:

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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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37 comments on “2018 F1 driver rankings #20: Sirotkin”

  1. Inauspicious start. Don’t understand this at all, especially when you compare team-mates, only one of which is a rookie.

    1. We have to remember that this ranking is not about who is the better driver, per se @hahostolze, rather, it ranks the quality of what they were able to do,if possible taking the car/team they had to do it with into account. Considering he is a rookie, he probably did a better job of his first season than Stroll would have, but experience counts, and Stroll clearly beat him on the Sundays.

      1. @bosyber but then Leclerc is most likely to finish in the top six, largely because of what he did as a rookie, bearing in mind that he was a rookie. And it’s wrong that other drivers don’t get the same rookie-caveat

        1. @hahostolze Leclerc really had a good season. He obliterated Ericsson in a way Wehrlein and Nasr couldn’t.

          1. But then again we’re talking about Ericsson, Werhlein and Nasr, three bad drivers.

    2. I don’t think tenure should be part of assessing performance over the year, @hahostolze.
      – How much better does a driver needs to be to offset his extra years of experience?
      – Should Leclerc be DOTY only because he’s still a rookie?

      To me Stroll was slightly ahead of Sirotkin (race performance and Monza quali).
      I just struggle to place Sirotkin relative to Hartley, Vandoorne, and Ericsson due to the donkey of a car he’s driving.

      1. Stroll also made up, somewhat, for his lacking in quali, by great starts (when they didn’t go overboard) @coldfly; agree with your post. Though I do think it is difficult to compare @hahostolze, and I do not always agree with how Keith decides the driver did in comparison to others in slower, or faster cars (or difficult /unbalanced cars).

        I am always fascinated by the f1metrics website, which recently has tried to add a experience/aging curve to the fit. But, that still doesn’t take into account cars changing character, and how that can interfere with the way a driver naturally drives (recent round up MDH article on how Hulk was sure he’d outperform Sainz – f1metrics got Sainz as top driver, from lack of comparison, now he is sunk – probably too much – from beating by Hulk).

        Anyway, I think there is enough insight here to find the list worth it.

    3. @hahostolze

      only one of which is a rookie

      This is only about who performed better, irrespective of their level of experience. There are enough variables to juggle as it is!

      1. @keithcollantine experience is an absolutely essential variable to juggle when it comes to new drivers. A year’s experience in F1 can make all the difference. It’s why we’re all bowled over by Leclerc: if he was a third year driver his season would have been far less impressive.

        1. @hahostolze As a counter-example, Ocon was placed 11th to Perez’s 8th in the midseason rankings and 8th to the latter’s 7th in the end of the season rankings last year, despite more than matching his well regarded teammate, especially in the second half of the season…and Perez had 6 years worth of experience over Esteban!!

        2. @hahostolze, you are talking about a different ranking; e.g. who are you most impressed about (yes probably Leclerc).
          This is a simple (or many ‘variables to juggle’) performance ranking. See it as an alternative WDC but taking away the car component and other non-driving-skill related items.
          I don’t think you would suggest to FIA to include ‘rookie’ bonuses in the WDC ranking either ;)

    4. @hahostolze‘s I don’t think having a single year advantage in terms of experience makes too big a difference when you’re driving a top midfield car one season, and a trashbox the other. Sure, it makes some difference and Stroll did have an advantage, but I think that Sirotkin’s better qualifying performances ‘even though he was a rookie’ have been blown out of proportion. I’ve said this a few times already, but if even a senior team member of the team i.e. Paddy Lowe calls the car a ‘demon’, you know there’s something very wrong with it.

      Perez, despite two years of experience, struggled with his McLaren in the first half of 2013 and he mentioned in a recent interview with that Button adapted to it more quickly because of his comparatively vast experience. However, in the second half, you could not only see Perez regularly matching Button, but also beating him quite a few times (scored 31 points to Button’s 34).

      By comparison, I don’t think Sirotkin improved much over the year. His slight qualifying advantage over Stroll was evident from the start i.e. a qualifying victory for Stroll was followed by one or two for Sirotkin, and the pattern continued over the year, albeit shifting a tiny bit more in Sergey’s favour (the gap to his teammate still negligible). He didn’t improve much in the race trim either, trailing 3-5 in the first half and 4-5 in the second. There was a stasis at Williams in terms how the drivers compared against each other throughout the year and I’m not sure that warrants Sirotkin being placed higher than his teammate given that he finished behind on both points and race results head-to-head. Whether he deserves to be last is another matter, though.

  2. He was a rookie but he would do better in a team with a car who was more stable. Driving the Williams of this year i don’t think Lewis, Vettel or Alonso could make something with that car.
    So he entered F1 in the wrong team and in the wrong time. comparing him with Stroll i don’t see any difference between te two.

    1. Alonso could make something with that car

      Alonso’s car was probably not a lot better, @macleod.
      McLaren’s other #2 driver qualified often behind the Wiliams and according to Keith had a better year than Sirotkin.

    2. I honestly thought he was better than Stroll this season. I would rate him higher than Hartley as well.

  3. What did Vandoorne pay you?

    1. I’m expecting Canadian sponsors in the ads

      1. Nah…but Keith is getting a complimentary pair of Tommy Hilfiger socks in his stocking.

    2. Belgium freddos

  4. Due to the lack of competitiveness of the machinery, it was a bit hard to judge him properly, but overall, I think he fared decently given the car he had to cope with throughout the season.

  5. Sergey was 10th in the list of laps completed this season. Interestingly, Lance was 8th in the list of most laps completed. Of course, there’s no points in that, but getting the car to the finish line is one of the expectations of a racing car driver. I’m sorry, I don’t know exactly what the total laps where this season, but Lewis Hamilton did 1255 laps this season, which was more than anyone else. Sergey did 1119 laps.

    1. @drycrust The total number of laps raced this season was 1266, the highest number of laps achievable out of the ‘current’ 21 venues.

  6. Quite a few candidates for the least coveted spot, starting with Stroll, Sirotkin, Vandoorne, and Hartley…. So who deserves the trophy of worst driver?

    Stroll got more points – had 1 more point scoring race over Sirotkin at Baku. Then again Stroll has one more season under his belt. Sirotkin on the other hand beat him 12-8 in qualifying. They were practically indistinguishable over the season. You could put Stroll in P20 and it would be fair.

    I think it’s a bit harsh to give it to Sirotkin who had the least experience of the other drivers on the grid.

    1. Obi Wan told me not to deal in absolutes but i just cannot think of ANY reason why Vandoorne missed out here. Like, non at all.

      1. You need to give in, the dark side of the force is pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural, only then you will find the reason

        1. Actually i think i know one explanation: an UNREAL amount of Alonso bias

  7. Very harsh, I’d put him at least ahead of Hartley, Stroll and maybe Ericsson. It must be noted that often Williams put Sirotkin on ridiculous strategies – some races where he was ahead of Stroll, or close behind him, they’d pit Stroll and wait for him to almost catch up again with fresher tyres before they’d bother to pit Sirotkin. Bizarre. Went under the radar though as Williams were so bad.

    Personally I’d like to see Sirotkin back, certainly better than a good few drivers on the grid next year, and with potential to improve. TBH would rather have him back than Ocon… Also I’m not sure his replacement in the Williams is an upgrade – well, he’s an upgrade in financial terms, maybe not performance terms… we’ll see.

    1. Oh and definitely ahead of Vandoorne.

    2. @tflb I know you dislike Ocon, but to say that you’d like to see Sirotkin back in F1 in his place is bizarre. What have you seen about him so far that tells you that he’ll be a better driver than Ocon in the future?

      1. @neutronstar Mainly because I’ve never seen Ocon have a particularly stand-out performance in two and a half years of F1, and was beaten by Perez deservedly in both years. Plus he doesn’t seem as much as a team player or professional as Sirotkin. I suppose the real measure of the two will be seeing how Stroll compares to Perez next year, up until then it’s all just guesswork.

  8. My driver rankings:
    1 Lewis Hamilton
    2 Max Verstappen
    3 Charles Leclerc
    4 Sebastian Vettel
    5 Fernando Alonso
    6 Kimi Raikkonen
    7 Sergio Perez
    8 Daniel Ricciardo
    9 Nico Hulkenberg
    10 Esteban Ocon
    11 Valtteri Bottas
    12 Pierre Gasly
    13 Carlos Sainz
    14 Kevin Magnussen
    15 Romain Grosjean
    16 Marcus Ericsson
    17 Stoffel Vandoorne
    18 Lance Stroll
    19 Sergey Sirotkin
    20 Brendon Hartley

    1. I’ll comment on what I find unrealistic of yours:

      1) Verstappen made too many mistakes early on to be 2nd
      2) Vettel made too many mistakes, alonso did almost a perfect season, there’s no way he should be ahead

      The rest sounds realistic to me, perhaps raikkonen should’ve been behind ricciardo, but not as alarming as those 2 I pointed out.

  9. Sirotkin and Stroll clearly underperformed in an already awful car, but the worst driver of the year was very clear for me: Hartley, who was destroyed by a rookie team-mate that, despite earning a promotion, is not (yet) a top driver

  10. I would have loved to see what Sergey could have done in a better car. He seemed like a bright, motivated and friendly driver. Apparently he also has a degree in race car engineering which is probably very helpful to have as a driver. He was really down when I saw him arrive at the circuit in Abu Dhabi this year. The feeling reminded me of Fernando Alonso, when he arrived at the circuit in 2014 prior to announcing him leaving Ferrari. I hope Williams can do a better job next year. I think it is good to have Robert and George together. Robert brings his wisdom (someone his age will not be worried about talking straight and treading on eggshells) and George is super motivated.

  11. Usually the driver in 20th in this ranking is there because they’re embarrassingly bad, but Sirotkin has just been a bit anonymous. I wont miss him, but I wouldn’t complain if he came back.

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