Russell says Williams can score points this year but warns against 'treacherous' strategy gambles

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 14: George Russell of Great Britain driving the (63) Williams Racing FW43B

After scoring zero points in 2020, Williams can trouble the scorers in this mammoth 23-race season according to George Russell – but he warned that it might not be so easy in Bahrain.

While Russell did finally score his first career points last year, standing in for Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton at Sakhir, Williams endured their first point-less season ever. But this year could see them score again with the improved FW43B, according to the young Briton.

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“Yeah, I believe this year’s car definitely has more potential than the last two cars that I’ve driven,” said Russell ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix. “We came close a number of times last year; I’d like to think we will be able to scrape into the points at some point this season.”

But the 23-year-old added: “I don’t think necessarily it will be this weekend; it will be a very tricky weekend for us with the conditions that are on the forecast, but I do believe at some point this year in more normal conditions we will see the true pace of the car and that will be more positive.”

George Russell (GBR) Williams Racing in the FIA Press Conference.
Formula One Testing, Saturday

Russell said the car's performance would make for an up and down season, at pre-season testing – but said on Thursday that there was no need to 'overreact'

After a mixed testing performance in which Russell and team mate Nicholas Latifi had one whole day in the car each – with reserve driver Roy Nissany driving the first day – Russell said the FW43B’s performance was "peaky" and added that it “might be fast at some events and slow at others”.

“I think what’s important is not to overreact from… one day of testing in three days for the team,” he said. “They were very difficult conditions that we probably won’t be facing again this season.

“Firstly, we were driving in Bahrain in the middle of the day in very hot conditions, which is conditions we don’t even race in; it was incredibly windy – we had sand being blown across the track; and there’s no doubt every single team struggled out there. I think some teams just struggled more than others.”

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With Williams still expected to be fighting at the back of the pack, Russell also warned that they should not be tempted to take big strategy gambles – as Haas did in the 2020 Hungarian Grand Prix when they pitted on the formation lap, sealing Kevin Magnussen his and the team’s first points of the season.

“That… can be a very treacherous approach, and can be very demoralising for any team,” warned Russell, “because if you’re going into any single Sunday, you know, putting all your chips on green and hoping for the best, probably 22 out of 23 times it’s not going to pay off.”

Williams enter the Bahrain Grand Prix with FX Demaison set to join as technical director – one of many significant changes new owners Dorilton Capital have made since taking over from the Williams family.

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