Russell wary of Ferrari engine taking ‘big step’ but sets Williams target of beating Haas and Alfa Romeo
George Russell has set his sights on Williams consistently beating Haas and Alfa Romeo this season, despite his belief the duo will receive a boost from the “big step” Ferrari have made with their power unit.
Williams ended up bottom of the constructors’ championship last year, having failed to score a single point. But rather than being cut off at the back of the field, like the previous year, they were part of the pack and regularly challenging and beating the likes of Haas and Alfa Romeo – both customer teams of Ferrari.
Scuderia boss Mattia Binotto has said his team are planning an all-new power unit for this season, having dropped to fourth and last in the engine stakes last year, and Russell says the improvements they are believed to have made have forced Williams to double their efforts.
“We want to be in the same position as last year [of racing Haas and Alfa Romeo] as a bare minimum,” Russell told F1.com as Williams launched their 2021 challenger on Friday. “We do appreciate and recognise that the Ferrari powertrain will take a big step forward so that’s a bit unfortunate for us, so we’ve had to do almost double the work over the winter.
“But that’s the bare minimum [target], fighting and ahead of Alfa Romeo and Haas, which I think is a realistic target and fingers crossed hopefully fighting toward the mid-pack.”
Russell, who will again be partnered by Nicholas Latifi at Williams this year, impressed the Formula 1 world when he stood in for Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes in Bahrain last season, almost winning the Sakhir Grand Prix before a pit mix up dropped him down the field.
He appreciates that kind of form isn’t possible at Williams this season, so is instead focusing on doing the best with what he has.
“Following every single race, I know if it’s been a successful weekend or not,” he added. “That doesn’t matter if I have finished 14th in Q2 or only 17th or 18th. I know if I believe I have got the absolute most out of the car or I haven’t, so I think a successful year would be coming away from it and saying, you know what, 75% of the races or more, we got absolutely everything out of it.
“Obviously you can’t achieve it every weekend. I’m just being realistic. [I want to leave each weekend] knowing I didn’t make any stupid mistakes, continuing to improve as a driver, continuing to improve and help the team.”