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.
Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.
Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.