Renault F1 Team has announced the signing of Sergey Sirotkin as its reserve for the 2019 season with Jack Aitken keeping his test driver role.
Sirotkin returns to Renault after spending two years with the French manufacturer in 2016 and 2017 after which he moved to Williams in 2018 as a main driver. His stint with the Grove-based team lasted only for one season after SMP Racing pulled out of its deal.
Since his F1 ouster, Sirotkin has tested for Audi in DTM and Mahindra Racing in Formula E, while he is also gearing up to race for SMP Racing in the World Endurance Championship for the remainder of the 2018/19 season.
The Russian was speculated for a return to Renault, in the meantime, which has now been confirmed with the Frenchman manufacturer revealing its full test line-up alongside the regular drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg.
Sirotkin will head the reserve programme with Aitken supporting him in the developmental work. The Korean-British driver is a Renault academy graduate, who will race for Campos Racing in the 2019 F2 season.
The two will have Renault’s new signing Guanyu Zhou’s support as well, who will dovetail his programme with a drive in the 2019 F2 season for UNI-Virtuosi Racing. “I am very pleased to rejoin the friendly Renault F1 Team and return to Formula 1,” said Sirotkin.
“We are well acquainted with the team, I spent the whole 2017 in their factory and in the pit box. It would be interesting to learn how far Renault has advanced in the development of the car over the past year – because last season we were rivals, and I could not see the work from the inside.
“I am pleased to join the team as a reserve driver and work alongside Nico Hulkenberg, with whom we have previously collaborated, and Daniel Ricciardo, with whom I didn’t have a chance to work closely.
“I am sure, it will be an interesting season and I wish the Renault F1 Team to fight for the highest positions.” At the same time, Aitken said: “It’s a great feeling to continue with Renault F1 Team and I’m grateful for this opportunity.
“I’ve been part of the team since 2016, so to remain for a fourth season is a privilege and I’m determined to repay Renault’s faith in me. I drove the Formula 1 car a couple of times last year and I can’t wait to sample the Renault R.S.19 this season in the rookie tests and give my best to develop the package in any way I can.
“Last year was a lot about learning, but I feel ready this season to do the job and get the results I’m aiming for as I continue my development pathway within Renault.” The full test programme hasn’t been confirmed but Aitken and Zhou should be driving the 2019 car.
Renault’s Cyril Abiteboul added: “We’re very happy to reveal our full 2019 driver line-up. It’s a very strong and experienced team of drivers. Nico and Daniel are an exciting combination and will be strongly supported by Sergey, Jack and Guanyu.
“In Sergey’s return, we have a driver who has experienced a full season racing in Formula 1 and that knowledge will be beneficial to developing our package. Jack has also impressed us when testing our F1 machinery, while Guanyu will complement the experienced team.
“All of them have an important role to play this season and we look forward seeing them all in action.” The news comes as F1 teams expand on their simulator developments due to limited track testing – both Mercedes and Ferrari already have set drivers with the role.