Russell targets first-lap improvements in 2020
While on paper, George Russell didn’t enjoy as prosperous a debut F1 season as fellow rookies Alex Albon and Lando Norris, his strong performances in the Williams did not go unnoticed in the paddock. But despite impressing many with his mature performances in 2019, Russell was already targeting improvements for 2020…
Russell wasn’t able to campaign as competitive a car as his fellow Formula 2 graduates in 2019, but did complete a clean sweep in his qualifying battle against team mate Robert Kubica. But while Russell appeared to have the measure of his team mate on Saturdays, he conceded that Kubica – who scored Williams’ only point of the season in Germany – had had an ace up his sleeve come race day…
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“My story of the last half of the season has been that of getting overtaken by Robert on the first lap, not making good enough starts, not being aggressive enough, then having stronger pace and struggling to overtake him before overtaking him at the mid-point of the race,” Russell said.
“The pace at the end [of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix] was very, very strong for us, I just need to improve on those opening laps.
“Equally I need the car underneath me as well, but it was a good way to finish the season.”
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Williams’ Senior Engineer Dave Robson was nonetheless full of praise for Russell after the 2019 season finale, insisting that the 21-year-old had all the makings of a “truly exceptional F1 driver”.
“George has served his first season in Formula 1 in difficult circumstances,” said Robson. “However, his talent, drive and enthusiasm are obvious and it is clear that he has everything he needs to be a truly exceptional F1 driver. While he may not appreciate it fully yet, this year may prove to have provided him with some very valuable experience that will pay significant dividends in the future.”
Russell will have a new team mate to measure himself against for 2020, with F1 veteran Kubica leaving and 2019 F2 runner-up Nicholas Latifi taking his place. And with a tough season for Williams now behind them, the team will be hoping to provide their young guns with a much more formidable car in the forthcoming FW43.