Sergey Sirotkin’s first Formula 1 practice run-out for Renault on Friday in Sochi proved to be a successful one as he finished eight-tenths of a second quicker than full-time driver Jolyon Palmer.
It was announced earlier this week that GP2 race winner Sirotkin had joined Renault in the role of test driver for the 2016 season, and would take part in FP1 for his home race in Russia in place of Kevin Magnussen.
Sirotkin posted a quickest lap time of 1:40.898 around the Sochi Autodrom in his first run in the Renault R.S.16 car to finish the session 13th overall, eight-tenths clear of Palmer.
The Russian’s time was made all the more impressive by the fact he had a problem with his seat position in the car throughout the session.
“My target for today was to give the team exactly what they wanted from the session,” Sirotkin said.
“I tried to remain very calm even though it is, of course, very exciting to get to drive a Formula 1 car. Obviously, it’s always beneficial when your lap time looks good but I felt comfortable delivering at today’s level even if it wasn’t as comfortable as it could have been with my seat.
“I am happy that I have started this long programme with Renault Sport Formula One Team in a positive manner.”
Renault trackside operations manager Alan Permane was happy with Sirotkin’s efforts, and felt that the team had made a fair start to the race weekend in Sochi.
“A productive first day for us. It was Sergey’s first time in the car and he did a very positive job for us,” Permane said.
“We weren’t able to get the seating position perfect for him yet despite this he delivered good pace and feedback.
“Jolyon had a straight-forward couple of sessions concentrating on aero development in the first session and a further front wing back-to-back comparison as well as tyre work in the afternoon.
“Kevin didn’t suffer from missing FP1 and was able to deliver everything required from FP2. We’ve still got some work to do, in particular with an oversteer balance.
“There are improvements possible, but it’s a reasonable start to the weekend.”