Sergey Sirotkin has the pace to race in Formula 1 and deserves a place on the grid; that’s according to Renault trackside operations director Alan Permane.
Sirotkin is one of several drivers believed to be in line for a Williams race-seat for 2018.
The Russian driver tested with the team in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday where he clocked a best time of 1:39.947 on the soft tyre.
That put him 1.3s up on his main rival Robert Kubica’s soft tyre run from Tuesday.
Asked if Sirotkin deserved a race-seat, Permane told Autosport: “I think so. Honestly, genuinely.
“I know I’m always likely to say that, because he is working with us, but I think he’s got the pace. I really do.
“And certainly he’s got, let’s say, the work ethic.”
Permane added that 22-year-old Sirotkin should not be judged on his Friday practice outings with Renault as they did not give him their best.
“He’s had some really bad luck with us,” said Permane.
“We haven’t done a good enough job for him, honestly, on Fridays.
“He’s driven the car four times and I think twice it completely failed on him.
“But in that time, if you look at his lap time, certainly compared to [Jolyon] Palmer in Malaysia in the wet and compared to our sort of immediate competitors, he does a good job for someone who doesn’t drive the car very much. He was very quick.
“On the other side of things out of the car, I can’t fault him at all.
“The effort he puts in, the feedback he gives in the office, what he is happy to do work-wise with the engineers, there are absolutely no problems at all.”