Sirotkin: GP2 title bid takes priority over F1 test role
Sergey Sirotkin says that his 2016 GP2 title challenge will remain his main focus for the season, despite him securing a Renault F1 test role.
Sirotkin, 20, made his debut with Renault in FP1 for the Russian Grand Prix, and is expected to run in more sessions as the year goes on.
However, the Russian insists that, while the test role is a great opportunity, his primary goal for the year is emerging as the 2016 GP2 champion.
"To be honest, the target this year is not the test driver role," Sirotkin said after FP1.
"It's a good opportunity, a good chance for me to prove myself one more time, but the most work and most focus is totally on GP2.
"I try to divide it a little bit - what the people are expecting from me here, what the people are expecting from me in GP2 - but for myself, being a GP2 champion is something really important."
Sirotkin finished as GP2's top rookie in 2015, taking third place in the standings, and has now taken the place of champion Stoffel Vandoorne at ART Grand Prix.
He continued: "Being a test driver is a good opportunity, I'm really thankful for it but I think this is something I deserved last year and it just came this year.
"Now I need to do something more, something better, and in that case, [I can] hope for a [Formula 1] race driver role in 2017."
Stellar Renault debut
Sirotkin finished 13th in FP1 at Sochi, almost seven tenths up on Renault's regular driver Jolyon Palmer. However, the Russian insists he was not chasing a headline laptime.
"The laptime was very good compared to my teammate and blah-blah-blah, but that was not really the target," he said.
"The very important thing was to do the right test, to get the right information from it - and we did it perfectly."
The Russian did admit that he was surprised over the gap to Palmer, but played down the importance of the lap.
"I did it really only on the last laps, the conditions weren't really the best, I wasn't pushing on the limit and I didn't even put all my sectors together. It was far from the best lap of my life.
"I can't say it's a big suprise, not a super surprise, but it is not something I would expect."
UK visa issues
Sirotkin confirmed he has yet to visit the team's factory in Enstone, but insisted there is a "much bigger plan" for his role with Renault than just the Sochi outing.
"I struggled to get a UK visa so basically still looking to go to the UK to the factory," he admitted.
"But, yeah, it was just that kind of situation when we announced it and, straight away, Sochi is coming - it was not done for Sochi. It was just the fact that we were a little bit too late to announce and Sochi was straight after.
"There is much, much more work behind that, a much bigger plan, we are going to follow it and I think I have quite a bit of simulator runs, development - a nice and exciting programme."
Additional reporting by Aleksander Kabanovsky
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