LONDON (REUTERS) - Sergey Sirotkin lost his job as a Formula One driver when Williams handed the seat to Poland's Robert Kubica on Thursday (Nov 22) but the Russian could still end the season with a triumph of sorts.
The rookie, who has scored one point from 20 races to date and is last in the championship, is leading a Sky Sports F1 online vote for the driver of the season by a significant margin.
As of Thursday, Sirotkin boasted a staggering 74,900 votes compared to five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, winner of 10 races this year for Mercedes, who was in second place on 42,600.
Third was Red Bull's Max Verstappen on 29,500.
The figures have given rise to social media amusement and suspicion that the poll has been "hijacked" by Russian bots or simply those enjoying a practical joke.
"Sirotkin all the way. Greatest driver ever to score 1 world championship point in 2018," declared Twitter user @cosam10.
"If you're going to troll, you should've chosen Stroll, lol," wrote @jimmy-bennett23, referring to Sirotkin's Canadian team mate Lance Stroll.
Voting closes after Sunday's season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina circuit where, on the evidence so far, Sirotkin must surely also be a contender for Formula One's online "driver of the day" fan vote.