It was announced yesterday that Russian GP2 driver Sergey Sirotkin will take part in the opening practice session of the Russian Grand Prix weekend for Renault after joining the team as a test driver on a “long term development plan”.
Further details of the contract were not released, but Sirotkin will substitute for Kevin Magnussen in FP1 on Friday in the Renault RS16. It will be the second time the Russian has driven an FP1 session at his home race after taking part in first practice at the inaugural Russian Grand Prix in 2014.
In an interview with the media yesterday, Sirotkin believes it is a great opportunity for him, is thankful for the opportunity and is determined to do the best job he possibly can. Sirotkin said the following:-
‘This is a great opportunity for me, although it has all come together so quickly. I still can’t quite believe it. This is, however, the moment that all young racing drivers are working towards, and I am determined to learn as much as I can, as quickly as I can, doing the best possible job for the team while driving in free practice one.
‘Renault Sport, which I would like to thank, has shown many times that it is the best place for a driver to start his Formula One career, and I intend to make the most of this opportunity. My commitment to challenge for the GP2 Series title will be enhanced by such a great chance and I would like to thank SMP Racing for the great support given to my career, commencing in Sochi, in front of my compatriots.’
In his own interview with the media yesterday, Renault racing director Frédéric Vasseur added the following about Sirotkin driving for the team in FP1 at Sochi as follows:-
‘Sergey is one of the most promising drivers from the junior categories so it is great for us that he is joining Renault Sport. We saw that he was the most promising rookie in the GP2 Series last season, where he achieved a race win and podiums, and for 2016 he is very well placed to fight for the title.
‘He has driven the Sochi Autodrom in a GP2 Series car previously so we have confidence in the job he will be able to do for us this weekend. For Renault Russia it is a good opportunity to harness the growing popularity of Russian motorsports, starting this weekend with the Russian Grand Prix and looking forward to the Moscow ePrix, which will be held again near the walls of the Kremlin on 4 June.’