While today’s official confirmation that Robert Kubica is to partner George Russell next season put a smile on the face of the Pole and his many thousands of fans, it came as a bitter blow to Sergey Sirotkin.
Though he is likely to finish last in the driver standings, for the most part, all things considered, the Russian gave a good account of himself, out-qualifying teammate Lance Stroll 8-12.
Talking to reporters in Abu Dhabi, Sirotkin admits that he only learned of Williams decision last night (Wednesday), though a week ago he was advised by his backer – SMP Racing – that it would not continue with the Grove team.
“I was informed from the team yesterday night that it’s happening, but already last week I had a few talks, a few meetings with SMP Racing,” he said. “We analysed how things are moving, and I think it’s been quite obvious after those meetings that we don’t really want to take part in it anymore.
“So, already from the last week I kind of knew it’s going to happen,” he continued, “I had the week to prepare myself. I could not prepare myself. I still can’t believe it is happening. It is a tough moment for me.”
Meanwhile, in a damning statement, SMP Racing boss, Boris Rotenberg, hit out at Williams.
“We were unpleasantly surprised by the level at which the team was at the beginning of the season,” it read. “The progress of the car was also not high enough.
“Despite this, Sergey spent a good season in the conditions in which he found himself, laid out at 100% and fully completed the tasks assigned to him.
“We are pleased with his work and are currently considering various options for continuing Sergey’s career. He will definitely spend a lot of races in the SMP Racing. We will announce our decision soon. “
“It is never one thing, it is always many, many things on top of each other, which made us think that way,” said Sirotkin of SMP Racing’s comments. “As a racing driver, I didn’t care about it all. All I cared about is to be on the grid and, whatever the car is, just do the best job I can. I still had a strong trust inside that probably things will turn around, probably something will change, and it won’t happen. But nothing changed and it happened.
“I honestly think that we did a good job,” he added. “The way we started, how we reacted to that, and how we’ve been as one united team, I am happy. I am also happy how I am performing under such conditions.”