Sergey Sirotkin’s first pre-season test session as a fully-fledged Formula 1 driver was restricted to just twenty-seven laps of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on Monday, as the weather played havoc with proceedings in Spain.
The Russian was the last driver to be confirmed to race in 2018 after a long decision process from Williams Martini Racing, and due to the conditions, he was unable to set a truly representative lap time, ending the day almost twenty-four seconds off the pace, thanks to being only given the afternoon session after taking over the FW41 from team-mate Lance Stroll.
Sirotkin did not want to push the car too hard too early, particularly in the tricky conditions, and was eager not to damage the car and hinder the testing programme.
“Today was a bit cold and rainy, unfortunately,” said Sirotkin. “We spent all day trying to make the best of the conditions but it was probably a little bit too extreme to run consistently.
“We tried different things throughout the day, but with the new surface which is nice and smooth, it’s not the best for such conditions. Due to the weather, I don’t think we could properly run or evaluate the car.
“Obviously, you want to maximise the pace to try and maintain the temperatures but that requires pushing as much as you can. I tried my best but we don’t want to damage the car at this early stage, and there were some tricky moments during the day.”
Sirotkin admitted it was exciting to finally get out on track as an official Formula 1 driver, and he has put in a lot of work over the winter to prepare himself for this moment.
“For sure, I was excited,” admitted Sirotkin. “It’s been a lot of work, we’ve been working very hard over the winter so it was very nice to be back here to try and put all the work we’ve done over the past few months onto the track in the car.
“We still have seven days of testing so I hope we’ll get some clear running and get some more chances to try the car properly.”
Sirotkin said drivers will have been used to the Halo already thanks to its use in the simulation, and the only downside he says is the increased difficulty in getting in and out of the car.
“The halo is good, to be honest we’re quite used to it after running with it in the simulator,” said Sirotkin. “It’s definitely more difficult to jump in and jump out of the car but once you’re in it, you don’t care.”