Sergey Sirotkin lost his drive at Williams after the 2018 season. The Russian driver was replaced by veteran Robert Kubica after one full season with the Grove-based team.
Williams has struggled in recent seasons finishing last in 2018 and 2019. The team has been in a free-fall after starting the V6 Hybrid engine-era in third-place in the first two seasons.
Sirotkin drove alongside Lance Stroll in a dismal season for the Williams team in 2018. The Russian managed to score a solitary point to open his Formula 1 account that season.
But Williams opted to give Kubica a chance to make a comeback after an eight-year hiatus due to a serious accident. Kubica was paired with the promising Mercedes junior driver George Russell.
After just one season driving for the backmarker team, Sirotkin was discarded. He managed to stay in the Formula 1 paddock as a reserve driver for the Renault and McLaren F1 teams.
Sirotkin speaking in Moscow to Motorsport.com about his exit from Formula1 said: “I’d say it’s become maybe even more painful. Because at that point of course Williams wasn’t the most competitive, I knew that for the next year the situation probably wouldn’t change dramatically. [We thought] that having this gap year we’d maybe have the chance to find a better option than trying to fight Robert for that seat.
“But now, having harboured some rather high hopes, high expectations, and even having had some initial agreements [in my first year in F1], and in the end you didn’t achieve your target – having then lost a further year, you realise that to make it [back to the grid] for the following year will be even tougher.
“And like that you realise that you’ve probably let the goal slip away forever. And, to be honest, when you don’t think about it it doesn’t really hurt, but every day it happens that you’re reminded about it, and it’s really- I don’t know, I’m not emotionless about it, it’s not the least important thing in my life, so for me it’s always been quite painful and will remain that way.”
Formula 1 can be a ruthless sport as Sirotkin has found at age 24. With a number of talented drivers jostling for a seat, a comeback seems difficult. Sirotkin reflecting on his current plight said: “I’m very self-critical, and to realise at 23-24 that what you’ve worked towards all your life hasn’t worked out, it’s tough. It’s really tough.
“In the beginning I thought it would be [harder]. I thought, when you’re watching it from Moscow, you’ve already forgotten a bit what Formula 1 is like, you’ve distracted yourself and it’s all okay.
“And then you’re back in the paddock, everything is familiar, you’re involved, but you don’t have a car, you’re not doing much, you’re still watching the races on TV or on the computer, and at some point I thought this may be harder to accept.
“But then I missed one race due to a passport delay, and after that I realised that I do prefer to fly in, to remain in that system in one way or another, to remain in touch with the people I know, rather than watch it from home on the couch.”
As countless drivers have found before Sirotkin, making a comeback into Formula after a driver has lost his drive is a very hard task.