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SMP Racing chief says never paid F1 Team Williams for taking Russia’s Sirotkin on board

Russian tycoon said Sirotkin is currently one of the fastest racers in Russia

MOSCOW, January 19. /TASS/. SMP Racing company did not pay FIA Formula One’s Williams for taking Russia’s Sergey Sirotkin as a team’s driver for this year’s FIA F1 World Championship, SMP Racing founder and chief Boris Rotenberg said on Friday.

Team Williams announced on Tuesday that it signed a contract with Russia’s Sergey Sirotkin to pilot one of its cars in the upcoming season. The 22-year-old Russian partnered Canada’s Lance Stroll, 19, in Williams. The contract with Sirotkin, who is a driver from the SMP Racing program on the development of the Russian auto racing sport, has been signed for the period of one season.

"Money plays an important role," Rotenberg said. "However, Sirotkin ended up there [in Williams] not because of money, but due to his sports qualities. This is why I think Williams took him. We, on our part, prefer to invest into technologies."

Russian tycoon Rotenberg said Sirotkin is currently one of the fastest racers in Russia.

"This is great and this is an example for young pilots of our program that achieving success is possible," he said. "We have over 1,500 carting racers across Russia and they see now that it is possible to make way to Formula One."

"This is very important that we signed a contract with Williams," Rotenberg told journalists.

"This is the team, which did a lot for the development of automobile racing sport and is capable of competing with leaders such as McLaren and Ferrari."

Sirotkin is the third Russian driver to enter the world of F1 racing. The first Russian racer in Formula One was Vitaly Petrov, who made his debut in 2010. Another Russian driver, Daniil Kvyat, raced for teams Red Bull and Toro Rosso at different times between 2014 and 2017 and most recently signed a contract with Team Ferrari to become a development driver.

The 2018 FIA Formula One Championship includes 21 races and begins with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 23-25. The final Grand Prix of the upcoming season will be held in Abu Dhabi on November 23-25.