George Russell, Williams, Circuit de Catalunya

Easier to drive, higher build quality, “much better” handling – Russell’s verdict on new Williams

2020 F1 season

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George Russell says his new Williams already feels much better to drive than last year’s car following his first run in testing today.

“Definitely the general handling of the car is much better,” said Russell in today’s FIA press conference with Kimi Raikkonen, Lando Norris and Alexander Albon.

“From lap one today I had confidence to push the car to the limit, whereas last year it wasn’t a nice feeling in the early laps. It was quite scary to drive, actually, last year, in the opening laps and trying to build that confidence. So already that’s better.”

However Russell said he isn’t just looking for a more benign car, but a quicker one. “Not always a nice car to drive is a fast car,” he said.

“It’s a lap time-based sport. It’s doesn’t matter how you get around the lap as long it’s fast, that’s all that counts. So it’s been improved in that area. Now we just need to see if we’ve managed to smash enough downforce onto the car to compete with the guys around me.”


He admitted the car is “definitely faster than it was this time last year, because this time last year the car was still in bits”, as the team’s previous car wasn’t completed in time for the first day of testing.

George Russell, Williams, Circuit de Catalunya
Russell covered 73 laps in the new car this morning
Russell was the first driver to leave the pits at the start of testing, which he said was a psychological boost for the team.

“We had an intense morning planned to get everything [done],” he said. “And it was important to get out from the beginning.

“Also off the back of last year, I guess it was psychologically important for all of us and for everybody who’s worked day and night back at the factory to see their car go out first.

“From the struggles of last year it was incredibly tough time for the 700-odd people back at Grove last year when they’re working absolutely flat out to try and make things ready and work in double time. So now it’s sort of a relief for all and now we can just get cracking on our test programme.”

[smr2020test]The FW43 ran for the first time in a filming day on Monday. Russell said new the car has also been finished to a higher standard than it was 12 months ago, when the FW42 was only completed in time for the third day of testing.

“The build quality of the car is so much better standard than last year,” he said. “Things fit properly, the car looks better from a design perspective. So I think overall it’s been a very positive morning.

“But nevertheless, like I said before, come the end of the week and going into Melbourne it doesn’t matter if the car’s here on time or in one piece, it all depends on my lap times and we just need to focus on our program and just get the most out of these two weeks.”

Russell’s new team mate Nicholas Latifi is driving the car this afternoon.

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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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  • 18 comments on “Easier to drive, higher build quality, “much better” handling – Russell’s verdict on new Williams”

    1. Nice to hear these positive initial impressions. As he says, let’s hope the downforce/pace is also there for them to close up the midfield.

      1. I’m reading a lot of hopeful comments. I enjoyed watching the Williams running decently well however that laptime was set on the soft tyres, nobody ran soft tyres but Williams. last year there was a large midfield and then Williams, this year it seems that, rather than Williams being a midfield team, there is company at the bottom, surely Sauber possibly Haas.

    2. I’m not a huge Williams fan, but I hope their car is much better this year so we can see Russell’s true talent. It’s always better for the sport to have all of the teams fighting for points as well. The last two years where they’ve been seconds off everyone else have been pretty sad to see.

      1. I think 2018 was down to both their drivers much more than the car. Stroll if anything looked better than Sirokin and I myself think stroll has improved since then while still being about the worst on the current grid. I think the 2018 Williams line up is possibly the weakest any team in F1 has had in quite some time. I think that despite Kubica being very poor indeed, russell made up for it here and at least made it a stronger line up, but i guess that is hard to prove. The car was still pretty bad in 2018, but I don’t think it was even close to being seconds off the pace. Something else that showed that both Williams drivers only qualified 19th and 20th on 5 occasions this year (so under a quarter of the season). That is nothing like last year.

    3. There was a bit in the press conference where Norris was asked whether now most of the turns were full throttle for all of them, and he sort of jokingly said that he thought it was now, even for Russell, who replied something like ‘more or less yeah’, so that’s a positive, right?

      1. They all learned from Alonso not to say things like why didn’t we seal the deal with Stroll Sr when we had the chance?

    4. This really is a relieve – it was just so sad to see the team struggle to bring a completed car to the track and then to see it mostly lagging 2-3 seconds behind per lap is really not good for F1

      1. Surprised to read so much about Williams build quality. Design flaws resulting in poor performance we knew about, but the build quality comments seem to signify a very demotivated company and culture – I hope we are witnessing a major change

        1. The overall impression I have had over the last 12 months is that Paddy Lowe helmed the design of a car that could never pass the crash tests. Rectifying that resulted in a car that was fundamentally unable to be competitive or made to be competitive during the season. I suspect that impacted all sorts of things, including the fit and finish.

          Since the basic concept has remained the same this year, I suppose we’ll find out if it was a matter of a bad idea done badly in 2019, or if the basis was sound but the execution so lacking that not even a full year of planning could fix it.

    5. CC’d from my post in another thread

      I know comparing times in testing is a fools folly, but while we are on this subject it seems pertinent to point out that George Russell this year is already 2.8s faster than his fastest time last year, and within a second of VB’s fastest this morning


      1. You can add this one too:

        2019 Spanish Quali time Russel: 1’19.072
        Day 1 of 2020 testing: 1’18.168

          1. Here’s a link to the live timing leaderboard screen. I guess the two surprises so far (noting the “fools folly” comment above) are Sergio Perez – Racing Point third and George Russell – Williams 9/15. YES! Great Work Williams!

    6. At the Raceday hospitality event at the Williams factory for the 2019 French Grand Prix, the staff on the day suggested they knew the fundamental problem with the car, but the team would not be able to fix it during the season which looks to have been largely sorted and the car now appears competitive.

      I got the impression this was a result of a major deficiency in the capability of then Technical Director who is no longer there and the team are doing better without him.

    7. These cars cost millions. How can low build quality come within miles of an F1 car!!!!

      1. I think its all relative….

      2. Makes me even more curious as to what happened with this whole Paddy Lowe story.

        1. My interpretation is that from the Williams perspective he was brought in as the shining white knight who would return and resolve all their issues, while Lowe felt like the prodigal son returning to his spiritual home with a fanfare and bring about a miracle

          Both, I feel, were found to be wanting on all counts….

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