Sergey Sirotkin will make his first free practice appearance of the season at the Sochi Autodrom this weekend as he replaces Nico Hülkenberg in the Renault Sport Formula 1 Team on Friday morning.
The Russian driver will take to the track at his home circuit in the RS17 admitting that it has not been easy sitting on the sidelines so far in 2017, having not found a race seat so far.
“Obviously I’m very much looking forward to it!” said Sirotkin. “I’ve learned so far this year that it’s not very easy to be at a race track but not in the car.
“Watching other drivers in action and competing is pretty frustrating as I want to be out there. I am learning a lot with the team and it is a positive and enjoyable process, just not as positive and enjoyable as racing itself.”
Sirotkin has already experienced the RS17 during the recent in-season test at the Bahrain International Circuit and felt able to get into a rhythm pretty quickly despite a prolonged amount of time out of the car, and is ready to do what his team ask of him during practice in Russia.
“The Bahrain test was a good first time in the R.S.17,” said Sirotkin. “The cars are really quick this year but I feel back in rhythm despite having not been in a race car for six months. It was a full programme and I enjoyed every second of being in the car, even if the programme was not the most exciting for the driver.
“Ultimately, I’m here to do what the team tell me to do, so that’s my approach to FP1; if I have to do aero runs, that’s what I do. If I have to drive a qualifying simulation on Ultrasoft tyres, then that’s what I’ll do too!”
Sirotkin admits he is proud to be a Russian driver but he would be happy to take part in any session, not just at his home circuit. It will be the third time in four years he has participated in FP1 at Sochi having done so with Renault last season and with the Sauber F1 Team back in 2014, but he remains focused on the job he needs to do rather than the media furore that will surround him.
“I’m proud of being a Russian driver so to be in front of thousands of Russian fans is always going to be a highlight,” said Sirotkin. “That said, I would settle with being in the car anywhere!
“Of course, there will be a lot of attention in the press and media, and many people I know will be there – which is always nice – however my focus is fully on track. I’m there to do the best job possible and focus on the entire race weekend not just FP1 when I’m in the car.”