Sergey Sirotkin has conceded Sauber is now an “unreachable” target for Williams, adding the team must continue to prioritise its Formula 1 recovery bid. 

An aggressive change of concept in its 2018 car design philosophy backfired, resulting in a torrid opening half to the season for Williams, which languishes at the very bottom of the F1 pecking order having scored just four points from the opening 12 races.

It is 14 points adrift of a revitalised Sauber outfit, which has moved itself well into midfield contention become a regular top 10 challenger. The Swiss squad has recorded points in four of the last six races heading into the summer break, while Lance Stroll’s eighth place finish during a crazy race in Baku in April remains Williams’ solitary points haul. 

Shock Moments of F1 2018… So far

“I think where they [Sauber] are they are for sure unreachable because they are well into the midfield,” Sirotkin told Crash.net. 

“For us I think at the moment the key is to try, I wouldn’t say to score concrete results, but to find our concrete and strong recovery way and start to produce the things which are clearly correlated well to our expectations.

“That’s exactly what we want to get an understanding of the car and how it should perform and what it should do in different situations, which already will bring us, I wouldn’t say into the midfield, but so we can do maybe more things in the race and use this as a base for the steps for next year.”

Deputy team principal Claire Williams previously insisted the Grove-based squad was not prepared to write off the current campaign and start looking towards development of next year’s car, with new aerodynamic regulations set to be introduced for 2019.  

When asked if he feels Williams is about to reach a stage where it needs to switch focus from 2018 to next season so it avoids starting 2019 on the back foot, Sirotkin replied: “I think there is always a balance. 

“The same as there is an independent group of people who are spending their time doing next year’s car, and this year’s car. 

“For sure it should be the balance but again I’m quite sure there are better people than me managing and prioritise the situation.”