Sirotkin claims maiden Formula Renault 3.5 victory

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Sauber junior driver Sergey Sirotkin has claimed his maiden Formula Renault 3.5 victory in Moscow today.

The Russian racer joined Sauber mid-way through last season with the view to claiming a full-time seat in 2014 and becoming the youngest driver in F1 history. However, after the necessary investment failed to materialize for this season, he opted to spend another year in the Renault-backed feeder series.

Sirotkin has come under fire since joining Sauber, with many deeming him to be too young and too inexperienced. In Formula Renault 3.5, he has failed to set the world on fire with his performances, but today in Moscow he finally claimed his first victory.

Having secured pole position for the race on Saturday, he went from lights-to-flag to beat Zoel Amberg and Pietro Fantin, giving the home crowd in Moscow something to celebrate today. However, no-one was happier than Sirotkin himself.

“Thank you to everyone, this is incredible,” he said. “It is the best moment of my life! The season got off to a bad start, but the team made good use of the short break to bounce back. And there is no better place to do it!

“We started strong in practice and it moved on today. It wasn’t easy to manage the temperature in the rear tyres, but we came through. Thanks to the entire team, really!”

Earlier this week, Sirotkin revealed that he will take part in free practice for Sauber at the Russian Grand Prix in October, and also called stablemate Simona de Silvestro a “marketing move” as the two drivers vie for a full-time seat in 2015.

Although one victory will not greatly change the F1 paddock’s view of Sirotkin, it is certainly a sign that he does have the pace to compete and could yet earn himself a seat in the sport with Sauber.

Lauda labels Verstappen USGP penalty ‘the worst I’ve ever seen’

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Mercedes Formula 1 non-executive chairman Niki Lauda has called the FIA stewards’ decision to penalize Max Verstappen for his last-lap pass on Kimi Raikkonen in Sunday’s United States Grand Prix as “the worst I’ve ever seen”.

Verstappen charged from 16th on the grid to take third place from Raikkonen on the last lap after a stunning fight through the field, completing the fightback with a bold pass in the final sector.

However, the stewards stripped Verstappen of P3 after he appeared to put all four wheels off the circuit when riding the kerb to pass Raikkonen, causing outcry in the F1 community.

Speaking to reporters after the race in Austin, Lauda condemned the stewards’ decision, slamming them for interfering in the late fight.

“We had meetings at the start of the year to see how far stewards should go in decisions during a race because it always says ‘under investigation’,” Lauda said, as quoted by Crash.net.

“So we complained about that and we agreed all together that the stewards would not interfere – very simple.

“If the driver goes over another and upside down, only then would they weigh in. That was at the beginning of last year.

“For six months it was OK, but this decision was the worst I’ve ever seen. He did nothing wrong.”

Lauda said F1 team bosses would discuss stewarding at the next Strategy Group meeting, which is due to be held in the next two weeks.

“These are racing drivers. We are not on the normal roads and it is ridiculous to destroy the sport with these kind of decisions,” Lauda said.

“At the next strategy meeting, we will put it back on the agenda and start all over again, because we cannot do that.

“They go too far and interfere and there was nothing to interfere with. It was normal overtaking.”