FW43’s 'driveability' biggest improvement over ‘really difficult’ 2019 Williams, says Russell
George Russell is well versed in Williams’ trials and tribulations having been part of their most difficult season ever in 2019, but the Briton is confident the team's new car is a significant improvement on the "really difficult" FW42 the team raced last year.
The Formula 1 circus arrived at the Red Bull Ring this week ready for the Austrian Grand Prix, which is now the first race of a calendar that had to be revised following the coronavirus outbreak.
Ahead of Sunday's race, Russell was asked whether the new Williams was an improvement on last year's car.
“Definitely, just for driveability,” he replied.
“I think last year we made some steps but it was a really difficult car to drive, I really [tried to] push it to the limit but it was snapping on me, I was losing the rear and losing confidence.
“Obviously we’ve only done Barcelona [testing] so far but it was really pleasant to drive. I think for Nicholas [Latifi, Russell's team mate] as well it’s going to give us more confidence and hopefully just bring that bit of extra performance.”
Unlike other teams such as Racing Point, Williams didn’t take part in a filming day or pre-Austria test to get the drivers up to speed – and that may be seen as an extra hurdle for the team as neither Russell nor his former team mate Robert Kubica got out of Q1 last season. However, Russell said he was more optimistic on that front coming into this season.
He said: “I’d say I’m more confident than I was last year on that perspective. But like you say it’s going to be difficult because we tested at Barcelona, it was 10, 15 degrees [celsius], the track was cold, different tyres and what have you. Until we get here… we’re not really going to know.
Williams are out to avoid a repeat of their last place finish in 2019 – but Russell warned that progress will be slow and steady.
“I think we built the foundations last year and we’re continuing that into this year. Rome wasn’t built in a day and it takes time. We are making progress. It’s very difficult when you come from so far behind the rest of the pack.
“I think we’ll judge our performance based off the others, seeing how we’ve hopefully closed the gap to P9 in the constructors’ [championship] and the rest of the midfield, and go from there.”