A satisfied Irina Sidorkova "getting used to the tyres" after W Series test
Russian teenager Irina Sidorkova – who will become the youngest W Series race driver in a month's time – feels satisfied by her pre-season test, having focused on understanding the Hankook tyres after a preparation-oriented campaign in Asian F3 on different rubber.
When the championship will get underway in a month's time, Irina Sidorkova will become the youngest ever participant in W Series: at 17, the Russian will write a small chapter of the series' history. We'll have to wait a little longer to discover if she can go even further and challenge the series front-runners, but certainly, the SMP Racing-supported driver will be one to watch.
With only one full-season of single-seaters under her belt, Sidorkova should have made her F3 debut in 2020 at her home race – on the newly built Igora Drive facility – before the pandemic shook everyone's plans. With W Series now on the bigger platform of F1, the member of the famous young driver academy that has brought some of the most interesting Russian prospects to the echelons of motorsport will have the chance of her lifetime in what is looking like an increasingly competitive field.
Sidorkova managed to complete a double-program in 2019 – the home-based SMP Formula 4 Championship and Spanish F4. She claimed two overall podiums in the Russian series and showed good progress in her first campaign abroad, often battling with Belén García and Nerea Martí. All of them famously made the cut at the W Series selection tests in Almeria 2019, and will thus be back reunited on the same grid in 2021.
In 2020, Sidorkova returned to touring cars for a stand-by season as she awaited to resume her preparation for W Series. In the SMP sponsored RSKG series, Irina had good battles in the Rally Academy Volkswagen Polo in the Touring Light class. Even though she often lacked some straight-line speed, the young lady took the opportunity to perfect her racecraft.
The W Series Esports League – the virtual iRacing-based series contested in 2020 – launched Sidorkova among the very top-drivers, together with Beitske Visser and Marta Garcia. Obviously, there will be no correlation between the drivers' performance in the virtual realm and their return to the track, but the Russian teenager showed remarkable grit and determination in learning the secrets of simracing – something that she admitted wasn't quite her thing.
Having completed the F3 Asian Championship winter series earlier this year, she is among the drivers that managed to step back behind the wheel of a Tatuus T-318 car prior to the official W Series collective test. In her Asian campaign, Sidorkova had solid learning-oriented weekends and, despite a hand injury forced her to miss the third round of the season in Abu Dhabi, she finished on a high and claimed a 12th place as her best result.
After the collective test at Anglesey, north of Wales, Sidorkova had the chance to do the seat fitting – a fundamental step to find the right driving position in every race car – before hitting the track for effectively 3 days of running.
The changeable weather in Wales, in fact, allowed the 20 W Series drivers to prepare for the most varying conditions that will await them during the racing season. While the first two days were sunny, rain started to fall on Thursday – as Wednesday was dedicated to media activities. The strong wind ultimately made testing impossible on Thursday and running resumed on Friday. In just five days, though, the drivers covered a total of 4723 laps – the equivalent of 15,918 kilometers.
“First of all, I am satisfied with my result - I’m getting used to the car and the tyres” – said Sidorkova. "W Series uses Hankook tyres, while I had driven on other tyres in the previous championship".
"It took me some time to understand their features, how to work with them, how long to warm them up, and so on. I really liked the track on which we trained: there are many different corners – high-speed corners, long corners, elevation changes." – she continued.
"I met the entire W Series team and all the participants in the championship. In general, I can say that the test was successful, I learned a lot of new things. It is a pity that this year I will not be able to challenge myself at the Paul Ricard track in France, where I have already competed in Formula 4, and now I would like to drive there in a more powerful car." – said Sidorkova regarding the calendar changes.
"But now I'm getting ready for Austria. The Red Bull Ring is also a very interesting circuit, and I'm looking forward to the first round."
With all the rounds now being held in conjunction with F1, W Series will also include in its updated calendar a double-header at Spielberg, with the season officially getting underway on June 26th.