Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams believes Sergey Sirotkin is “going to surprise a lot of people this year” in his rookie season in Formula 1.
Sirotkin was handed the vacant race seat at Williams ahead of Robert Kubica in January, with the decision being made after an evaluation process following the Pirelli tire test in Abu Dhabi. With Kubica having had a lot of backing from fans as he attempted to return from life-threatening injuries sustained in a rally crash in 2011, Sirotkin’s appointment was met with skepticism in some quarters last month, but speaking at the launch of the FW41 in London on Thursday, Williams says she’s confident the Russian rookie will prove any doubters wrong.
“It’s always nerve-racking when you bring in a new talent in Formula 1 but we’ve been bringing in young talent as a team for a number of years now and fortunately they’ve always paid off,” Williams said. “So I’m really looking forward to seeing how Sergey does. And it’s not like he’s never been in a single-seater – the guy’s had an impeccable track record in single-seater racing, having come third twice in what was the GP2 championship. And obviously Renault thought he had the talent in order to make him their reserve driver.
“For me it’s really exciting to see him. Obviously I’ve met him a couple of times now. He did a phenomenal job for us in the Abu Dhabi test and I think probably Sergey is one of those drivers we haven’t heard of as much as maybe some other new talents that come into the sport, for whatever reason that may be, but I think he’s going to surprise a lot of people this year.
“Personally I can’t wait to see it. His technical capability combined with his track efficiency is really impressive and I really hope he has a good year with us and does a really good job.”
Williams is also looking forward to seeing how Lance Stroll performs in his second season with the team having had a number of standout moments during 2017.
“Obviously, Lance now in his second year with us. He had a fantastic year last year, particularly in the second half. He took that front row grid slot alongside Lewis [Hamilton] at Monza. He was the only driver outside the top-three teams last season to take a podium, and that’s no mean feat for a rookie.
“I think some people did him a disservice at the start of the year. To be able to cope with that amount of pressure that was put on his shoulders, he did a fantastic job and he’s been working really hard over the winter to make sure that he delivers an even better performance for us next year. So I am excited about what our drivers can do this coming year.”