Sergey Sirotkin says he’s sympathetic towards Williams after its ongoing troubles at the start of the 2019 season despite splitting from the team at the end of last year.

The Russian driver was axed from the team’s driver line-up at the end of the 2018 season, leaving him without a spot on this year’s Formula 1 grid, with the British squad opting for an all-new pairing of Robert Kubica and George Russell.

Sirotkin, who has returned to Renault as a development driver this year to dovetail his 2019 efforts with SMP Racing in the World Endurance Championship, says he only feels sympathy towards Williams following its torrid pre-season preparations despite being dropped by the team less than four months ago.

Williams had to cancel a shakedown run and miss the first two-and-a-half days of pre-season testing at Circuit de Catalunya due to delays on completing its 2019 F1 car.

Trouble has deepened at the Grove-based team in recent days with technical chief Paddy Lowe taking an indefinite leave of absence from the team while hasty redesigns have been rumoured as its current car doesn’t match the technical regulations.

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“I feel quite sorry to comment about Williams because we all know that the team is in a very difficult position but at the same time I have so many great friends there, so many people,” Sirotkin said during the second pre-season test of Barcelona.

“I know that we spent only one season together but it’s a very, very long year and we spent so many days together at the factory, together at race tracks, all day long working together in such a difficult situation that it really feels like I’ve been there forever. I really feel sorry for them.”

Sirotkin also feels the team’s development work on its FW42 car will be hidden by its recent problems having witnessed its efforts preparing for 2019 over the course of the second half of last season.

“I know how much work was put in altogether to development. I feel really sorry because of certain difficulties we don’t see the result in terms of performance,” he said.

“I don’t want to comment too much but as I know the people there and I know what they deserve I just want to really wish them all the best and really hope they will get what they really deserve.”

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