Williams Martini Racing driver Sergey Sirotkin believes the team is making “quite significant” progress with their car, but that improvements by other teams and “bigger factors” are hiding any advances in pace.
Williams have had a difficult start to 2018, amassing just four points in the Constructors’ Championship in the ten races so far this season. All four of these points came from Sirotkin’s team-mate Lance Stroll, who finished eighth at the incident-packed Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Sirotkin is the only driver who is yet to score points this season.
Whilst many are looking to the inexperienced Williams drivers for improvements in form, the FW41 – Williams’ 2018 car – is certainly not without its faults. These faults are being worked on – and improved – said Sirotkin, but the rate at which competitors are improving is overwriting any progress the team is making.
“It is very difficult. Honestly we have bits here, bits there, where we get the progress,” said Sirotkin.
“The only problem that everybody does the same, so it doesn’t really change much, our standing compared to others.
“We do improve compared to ourselves and in certain areas we actually improve quite significantly.
“But then very often it is overridden, let’s say, by other, bigger factors.
“Like, for example, what we had [with the rear wing] or the most unlikely and most difficult track and weather conditions for us.
“All of this covers and masks our improvement we have behind it, so it is difficult.”
This revelation comes off the back of a disastrous home race for the team; the British Grand Prix saw both drivers crash in the first qualifying session with the aforementioned rear wing issues, then struggle to make up ground from a pit-lane start. A tumultuous race saw Stroll finish in twelfth, with Sirotkin in fourteenth – the last of the finishers. After the race, the Russian said that tyre issues following the second safety car restart prevented him from moving any further up the grid.
“On the restart, for the first two laps, it was just about keeping the car on track, just to drive and hope that after a certain amount of laps the situation will come back.
“It partly did, but if you look around everybody else was with a fresh soft tyre.
“Grip level was incomparable and not in my favour unfortunately.
“When you are a racing driver and you want to be there fighting for positions, it is just very painful to feel what I felt for the last stint.”
Sirotkin will be hoping he can break his pointless run in Formula 1 at this weekend’s German Grand Prix.