George Russell, Williams, Albert Park, 2019

Williams have to treat races like “test sessions” – Russell

2019 Australian Grand Prix

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George Russell says Williams must use races as part of its testing programme for its under-developed FW42 chassis which was not completed in time for the start of pre-season running.

The car was 1.2 seconds slower than any of the team’s rivals last weekend. Williams was the only team which failed to lap Albert Park quicker than they did in 2018.

“We’ve just got to treat these as test sessions because we’re so far behind,” Russell admitted. “We’ve just got to understand, almost try things to see what works and what doesn’t because for now it doesn’t really make much sense to try and optimise everything when we are that far off the pace.”

Russell ended a largely trouble-free debut race two laps behind the leaders and one lap behind the next car in front of him.

“I’m happy that I got through it with no dramas,” he said of his first F1 race. “Physically I feel fine.

“The race, I got through it, basically. I think we learned a lot. But obviously we’re not here to fight for last and we’ve just got to analyse everything now and try to put a plan together.”

He finished a lap ahead of team mate Robert Kubica but admitted “it wasn’t a fair fight with Robert, he had a bit of damage at the start.

“For both of us it was just a case of bringing the car home and learning as much as we can.”

A late pit stop for new rubber with three laps to go allowed Russell to lap closer to the midfield pace, he said.

“At the end of the race I was kind of stuck behind [Lando] Norris and [Sergio] Perez because I was on fresh tyres. So that was quite nice actually just to be so close and understand actually how much downforce we’re losing when we’re there.

“So we can almost say these are practice sessions for when we’ve got the pace.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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27 comments on “Williams have to treat races like “test sessions” – Russell”

  1. Well there is one more career going in the drain…

  2. I think it will be wise to allow teams lacking pace to have a free practice session on Mondays after each GP.

    1. +1 It’s to nobody’s benefit that Williams are so far off the pace. There should be a process whereby teams at the bottom of the grid can request extra practice sessions in such cases, subject to some kind of approval mechanism with the other teams (presuming good faith and a degree of rival generosity) or simply via regulated FIA approval.

      1. @david-br – while it is a noble concept, I don’t think it’ll work in the cut-throat world of F1.

        With the current F1 regs, engine development is heavily restricted (and penalized), aero/chassis development is almost unlimited.

        With that context, let’s consider a hypothetical – Toro Rosso now appear to be comfortably in the midfield. However, they might be concerned that as the season goes on, they might be expected to take engine penalties to help Honda (and big brother RBR) hone the engine development programme for this season or the next. Therefore, there is the likelihood that although they might start the season big, through the course of the season they might end up starting at the tail for various reasons.

        Conversely, Williams is already powered by a class-leading PU that can most likely see out the season without any penalties. And with additional testing, if Williams suddenly solve their aero/chassis problem in 3-4 months, they might eclipse Toro Rosso by the end of the year.

        As a team principal of Toro Rosso, I would veto any call for additional testing for Williams if it came to a vote by the teams, or strenuously object if the FIA/FOM push for this, on the basis that they are rewarding failure.

        1. @phylyp My suggestion does set out from the assumption that none of the teams wants to see a reduced grid or a situation where one or two teams are woefully uncompetitive – for the sake of the ‘show’ that they’re always going on about. I follow the argument of your hypothetical situation, but then it simply raises the issue of junior teams in Formula 1! Which is actually another reason for giving teams ike Williams some leeway. Of course they could resolve that by becoming effectively a junior team to Mercedes as Joe Saward suggested recently.

    2. Would work only if other teams could donate spare parts, as at the moment Williams has barely for the race weekend. :(

  3. The situation of Williams is just sad.

  4. Any chance of Williams scoring a point this year?

    1. Not impossible, the last team to score zero points were Marussia in 2015 (when Williams scored 257).

      But it’s looking ominous.

      1. @bernasaurus – oh, how the wheel turns. :(

    2. There are some. Around the same amount as ROKiT has selling a phone this year.

      1. @palagyi – you jest, but I saw this in my newsfeed earlier today: ROKiT have launched a bunch of phones in the US, allied with various services like insurance, roadside assistance, etc., and are priced from $40 to $300. We might mock their lineup, but it is equally likely that their phone+service offerings might find takers among elders, people on a budget, etc.

        1. @phylyp: So…you’re saying this a perfect marketing platform for Rokit – old stodgy F1 team with the slowest limited-budget car – matches well with the target demographic.

          1. @jimmi-cynic – the roadside assistance, in particular. In a future race, I expect to see Kubica/Norris parked by the side of the circuit, holding their AA card up as the recovery vehicle arrives.

  5. I enjoyed the Marussia and Caterham fights back in the day, but this is just sad. I’m feeling Williams won’t be around next year, and maybe gone by the end of the season.

  6. Agreed, anyone more than 2s off pace should get unlimited testing until the next race.

  7. Odd suggestion, but would it be worth Williams deliberately short fuelling the car to be competitive enough to try race the midfield for half a GP before retiring?

    Would it be better for them to be amongst others (dirty air, chance to use DRS, chance to try overtake, see how tyres behave in traffic, opportunityfor drivers to show their worth in battle, etc)
    rather than just go round and round on their own at the very back?

    1. There’s probably a rule against short fueling.

      1. Nope. Still legal, at least until the FIA classify fuel as a “movable aerodynamic device” and ban it.

    2. @eurobrun, basically, what you’re suggesting is Williams should copy what Toleman did back in 1982. However, I could see that tactic having some rather negative repercussions as it could just end up making Williams look rather incompetent if they ended up running out of fuel midway through the race.

      It could also be rather unfortunate if, in a race where they did try that tactic, there was a surprising amount of attrition that meant they could potentially score points if they finished, but ended up not scoring because they couldn’t make it to the finish.

  8. Yeah, I don’t know how it would be worded but I’m sure you can’t knowingly enter a race with no intention of finishing, there’d be some angry faces if they took someone out then just parked the car 3 laps later as they had planned.

  9. When you think any other sport F1 feels a bit strange. Back in the day there were Minardi then Jordan fell of the pace. Then came HRT/Caterham/Manor. But still you see a race winning driver (Trulli) or a promising young gun (Russel) who won F2 last year, racing a perfect race but being 2 laps down on winner. You don’t see this in football or ice hockey very often. But still F1 wouldn’t be F1 if there is no backmarkers. Think about the late Jules Bianchi, Marussia and Monaco a couple years back. Of course winners and champions will always be remembered but the real deal is those backmarker stories.
    I just hope that this Williams mess will be a positive one in the end.

  10. We’ve just got to treat these as test sessions because we’re so far behind

    In the last two years we’ve seen the departure of Rob Smedley (Head of Performance Engineering), Dirk de Beer (Head of Aerodynamics), Ed Wood (Chief Designer), and Paddy Lowe (Chief Technical Officer).
    Recently George Russel said there was a fundamental design flaw with the car, and that it wasn’t easy to fix.
    The impression I’ve got is this year’s car was designed with less expertise than is normal for an F1 team. For example the FW42 turned up at the pre-season testing with mirror arms and a suspension system that contravened F1 rules and had to be corrected before they were allowed to race at Melbourne.
    One of the golden rules for fixing things is being able to reliably replicate the problem. If you can reliably replicate the problem then you should be able to fix it. It is also better to be able to try replicate the problem in a static situation rather than in a dynamic one so you can look at the exact nature of the failing and trial different solutions. To that end, if the problems are aerodynamic, then track testing and wind tunnel testing rules, especially those regarding wind tunnel testing of full sized cars, will hinder Williams fixing their car because they won’t be able to just drive the FW42 around to find situations that it fails in or put it into a wind tunnel to see what is happening. As I think about this, discovering their car contravened arguably minor F1 design rules meant they have had to also replace all their scale models of the FW42, which will have been an added frustration. Unfortunately even if they can replicate the problems with their scale models of the FW42 there’s no guarantee they have the expertise to immediately come up with solution, meaning their solutions will be based upon trial and error instead of knowledge.

    1. The fundamental problem is there for everyone to see, too slow, lacking downforce, and probably 50kg overweight, it looks bigger than the other F1 cars, the overall packaging does not look tight like the rest. If you are 1.2 seconds slower in sector 1 with 2 straights, and using a Mercedes engine, than there is something seriously wrong, and Russell is right, there is no point optimizing a package that slow, a waste of resource. They basically need to make a B car, then use that as a base for 2020. This Lowe disaster car needs to be abandoned and all effort put into designing a good 2020 car. I can see Russell and Kubica using this as a test year, and hope that next year will be what this year is supposed to be for them. Maybe even modify last year’s car to this year’s aero and test that for a couple races.

  11. I think all these crocodile tears shed over Williams are completely unnecessary.

    Nobody, but nobody, lifted a finger to help
    Caterham, Manor or Sauber when they were in terminal trouble. Certainly Williams didn’t; lots of cocky talk back then about heat in the kitchen, etc.

    Fact is that Williams have wasted two lifelines (Stroll and the Russians) already, through sheer arrogance in refusing to recognise that they have a problem.

    Force India and Sauber have both been saved, but at the cost of first going bust and having the former owners forced out. Williams can possibly be saved, but surely only at the cost of a total restructuring. Question is only who would be prepared to commit to that.

  12. if they test things first to be better when race time comes,
    they are testing for what if theyre using race time as a test !?

    clair williams doesn’t know where she is standing!

  13. Claire’s to blame, it gives me the impression. A while ago she was ignorant enough of their history to say “We think customer cars go completely against DNA of F1”.

    Williams were customer Brabhams.

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