Williams have finally ended weeks of speculation by confirming that Russian racer Sergey Sirotkin will be Lance Stroll’s team mate for the 2018 Formula 1 season.
Sirotkin, formerly an F1 test driver with Renault, impressed Williams with his performance at the Abu Dhabi Pirelli tyre test last November where he drove the FW40 for the first time, and the 22-year-old will now make his F1 race debut in Australia in March.
“To say I’m happy and proud to join such a famous team like Williams is an understatement,” said Sirotkin. “It took a huge amount of work to get where I am, and I’m really happy and thankful to everyone involved. The result of our combined efforts has helped me achieve my dream, and rest assured the team can rely on me to deliver my best.”
Sirotkin was one of several drivers evaluated for the seat left vacant by Felipe Massa’s retirement, among them former Grand Prix winner Robert Kubica who has been signed as Williams' reserve and development driver for 2018. The announcement means all 10 teams have now confirmed their two race drivers for the new season.
“After an extensive driver evaluation process, I am thrilled to have our 2018 line-up finalised, and I’m excited to see what next season brings,” said Claire Williams, deputy Team Principal. “We have taken our time to evaluate all the available options, and I’m confident Lance and Sergey can deliver the best results for the team. The Williams philosophy has always been to promote and develop young talent and Sergey fits right into that ethos.”
As a member of the SMP Racing programme, which develops Russian drivers from karting through every level of circuit racing, Sirotkin competed in GP2 in 2015, finishing third as the highest-placed rookie. In 2016, he was selected as test driver for Renault Sport F1, combining his role with a second season in GP2, where he again came third overall. In 2017 Sirotkin continued with Renault F1, and took part in four Friday practice sessions, as well as the Bahrain test.
Commenting on Sirotkin's appointment, Paddy Lowe, Chief Technical Officer, said: “We have conducted a rigorous and exhaustive driver evaluation process. Ultimately, Sergey impressed the team with his driving pace and talent, technical feedback and work ethic, both at the factory and trackside in Abu Dhabi.
"I’m delighted he will be joining the team to partner Lance next season. Lance will be going into his second season with us, after notable achievements in his rookie year. We have an exciting line-up for 2018 which we believe will help us to maximise the potential of the FW41.”
Sirotkin's appointment alongside Stroll, 19, means that Williams will have the youngest driver line-up on the grid in 2018, with a combined age of 41. Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen is F1's most senior driver at 38.
Sergey Sirotkin's CV at a glance
2011 - Crowned champion in Formula Abarth Euroseries with five wins
2012 - Finishes third in the AutoGP World Series and fifth in Italian F3 championship
2013 - Finishes ninth in Formula Renault 3.5 Series and later signed to development role by Sauber
2014 - Makes F1 weekend debut with Sauber in Russia and finishes fifth in Formula Renault 3.5 Series
2015 - Scores one victory and five podiums as he finishes third in GP2 Series
2016 - Picks up two wins en route to another third place finish in GP2 Series, whilst also making two Friday appearances for Renault
2017 - Drives in another four Friday practice sessions as Renault reserve, before testing for Williams at end-of-season test in Abu Dhabi