Every year International racing championships replenished with Russian drivers. In 2019 Russians will drive almost in every International series - from Formula 1 till FIA F3 Championship. Let’s talk today about top Russian drivers and their plans for upcoming season.
In the end of the season-2018 Williams made the announcement that the team stops working with Sergey Sirotkin, replacing him by Robert Kubica. Last season was incredibly difficult as for the whole team as for the Russian, what didn't give Sergey an opportunity to show the high level of his work and talent. According to Sirotkin, he and his main sponsor SMP Racing were sure Sergey will stay in Williams at least one more year. However, the team made another decision.
Surely, now the main Sergey’s goal is come back to Formula 1. But the Russian doesn’t waste the time and does everything possible to keep his race pace and get more experience. In December Sirotkin went to Jeres to take part in “junior” tests in DTM with the new team of Audi - WRT. And on the last weekend Sergey was in Marrakesh on the second stage of Formula E championship, where testing the car of Mahindra Racing team.
Obviously Sergey also will drive in a few races of WEC. SMP Racing has its team in the championship: they have two crews in the premier LMP1 class. Moreover, the Russian doesn’t exclude, and even confirms that he is likely to take part in the legendary race 24 hours of Le Mans. But at the current moment the both crews of the team is completely formed, and it’s still unclear who will be replaced by Sirotkin.
In the season-2019 two Russian drivers could be in Formula 1. But nevertheless Russians don’t leave the championship - Kvyat is coming back! The news about resumption of cooperation Red Bull and Daniil was absolutely crazy and unbelievable. Despite Red Bull program is very tough and ruthless, Russian torpedo changed the rules.
After retirement from Toro Rosso in the end of 2017, next year Daniil worked as Ferrari development driver. On the Russian Grand Prix in 2018 it was announced Kvyat is coming back to Formula 1, to already familiar to him team – Toro Rosso, where he will be a teammate of the rookie Alexander Albon. Obviously, the team is excited to Daniil's returning. As said team principal Franz Tost, no one else on his place could stand such a pressure. Also Tost noted that the experience that Daniil got in Ferrari will undoubtedly help him in 2019.
One of the main stars in Formula 2 left the championship. Artem announced his leaving before the final stage in Abu Dhabi. Markelov made a debut in F2 (previously GP2) in 2014. During five seasons he won nine races, and his best result was the second place in the championship in the season-2017. Last season Artem finished on the 5th place with 186 points.
By the way, Russian Time team, where Markelov performed, also ceased to exist. The British team Virtuosi Racing that managed the Russian Time project in Formula 2 over the past four years, received assets of Russian Time. Now the new team in Formula 2 championship is called UNI-Virtuosi.
Nevertheless, the racing career of the Russian doesn't end. Artem still stays with Renault team in Formula 1 as test and development driver. In addition, he is close to move to Super Formula. According to Motorsport.com, Russian driver negotiates with two teams in Japanese championship: Team LeMans and KCMG. However, at the current moment the contract with KCMG is more likely. If both sides agree, Markelov will be a teammate of the former F1 driver and driver of Toyota in WEC Kamui Kobayashi.
Another one Russian driver will debut in the main support series of Formula 1 – Formula 2. Mazepin will continue to perform in ART Grand Prix team, with which he drove in 2018 in GP3 and became Vice-champion of the series.
Nikita has to fight with the teammate Nyck de Vries, who was a driver of Prema team last year, and finished the season on P4. Since 2019 de Vries will return to ART, where he has already worked in 2016 in GP3. Another rival for the Russian will be Mick Schumacher, who also will debut in Formula 2. The champion of FIA F3 in 2018 will continue to drive for Prema team.
And in conclusion about the rising star of Russian Motorsport. In October 19-year-old Robert Shwartzman became a FIA F3 Rookie Champion 2018. It’s expected that the participant of Ferrari driver academy will move to Formula 3 with Prema team, but official announcement still wasn’t made. During the tests in Abu Dhabi Robert worked with another team Charouz Racing System.