Sergey Sirotkin has described his 2019 plans as “a little interesting step backwards” before he hopes to return to the Formula 1 grid after confirming he will act as third and reserve driver at Renault.

The Russian driver returns to the Renault ranks where he acted as a development driver in 2016 and 2017 before making his F1 debut with Williams last season. Sirotkin was dumped towards the end of last year with the British team opting for an all-new driver line-up of George Russell and Robert Kubica which left him without a race seat for 2019.

Sirotkin will dovetail his SMP Racing commitments in the World Endurance Championship with his new reserve role at Renault this year as part of his plan to get back on the F1 grid in 2020.

“I really try to consider this as a little interesting step backwards to just get ready for the big jump ahead. I really hope so,” Sirotkin said. “That’s optimistic but it’s a realistic target.

“But again it’s so early in the season to even try and make a concrete plan for the future. I really hope so, I’m ready to use all the opportunities I will be given but it’s still quite early days to say.”

Sirotkin says he’s thrilled to return to Renault having seen the French manufacturer continue its rapid rise up the ranks which culminated in a fourth place finish in the F1 world constructors’ championship last season.

“I feel good to be back. Being with the team 2016 and 2017 and I have a very good relationship with many people here. I feel comfortable to be back with them,” he said.

“I want to be racing, for sure it’s a very interesting role but I would always prefer to be in a race car myself. But for like a long-term perspective it’s probably an interesting experience.

“I had the chance to look at things here in 2017, then a chance to race a car myself, so I know how I was behaving in certain situations. Now I’m back here, we have Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg who are both great drivers and great people to deal with.

“Now have the chance of being already experienced that myself to look at how they’re behaving in similar situations and knowing how I would behave in the same things. So it’s quite an interesting experience again. I’m happy to be back here.”