George Russell, Williams, Hungaroring, 2020

Russell believes aero sensitivity is to blame for “three very poor races”

2020 Hungarian Grand Prix

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George Russell believes Williams’ poor performance in race trim is due to the car’s sensitivity to running closely behind others.

While the team’s qualifying pace has improved this year, and both drivers reached Q2 last weekend, the race performance of its FW43 has been disappointing.

“It’s a bit strange at the moment,” said Russell “We’ve had three races now: two very good qualifying, one good qualifying and three very poor races.”

Nicholas Latifi, who joined Williams as Russell’s team mate from Formula 2 this year, said he had been surprised how strong the effect of turbulent air was on his car. Russell believes the Williams is particularly prone to instability when running behind other cars.

“Our car is very sensitive to following others and becomes very difficult to control when following others,” he said. “Obviously on a Saturday [in qualifying] you’re not following others. So that’s the only understanding that we can take away from this.”

He described how the car feels when running close to others. “I feel like I just lose quite a lot downforce and the car becomes quite unpredictable.

“The car is very strong and feels really nice to drive in a quali format. But just in the race, when following cars it isn’t and it takes confidence away from me. When I’m in clear air in the race our pace is strong or during a practice session in clear air with high fuel pace is strong.

“So all things are pointing towards or indicating it’s when we are following, our aero sensitivity is too high.”

The team hoped to “make good start and hold position from there” in Hungary, said Russell, but he lost three places on the first lap.

“We made a very poor getaway which actually we don’t understand why as procedurally everything was correct. Nicholas made an incredible start while doing, from a clutch procedure point of view, exactly the same. So just a bit of understanding to go on there.

“Ultimately that set us back dramatically and following from that, the track obviously dried very quickly. We probably should have [pitted] a lap earlier but unfortunately Nicholas was ahead of me and we weren’t ready to double stack.”

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2020 F1 season

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13 comments on “Russell believes aero sensitivity is to blame for “three very poor races””

  1. Do you think there’s any chance that some teams will bring b-specs, practically a new car to Abu Dhabi? Especially Ferrari would need it to salvage their 2021 season.

    1. @pironitheprovocateur I doubt it. Furthermore, why bring considerable upgrades to the final race only?

      1. to salvage their 2021 season

    2. They have a token system on the modification allowed but I am not sure if it’s between end of 2020 and start of 2021, or what are the references.

      If they go for that strategy, they will want the new car on the penultimate race to make some changes/adjustments on the last one and have solid basis for the winter work.

      I don’t think any team will do it though, not even Ferrari given the resources required and they will have to improve the design over the winter anyway, while giving away where they are at that point to the competition…

    3. I strongly suspect this will happen. McLaren might especially benefit from doing so, make a final update late season and then use tokens to fit Mercedes engine over the winter.

  2. “Our car is very sensitive to following others and becomes very difficult to control when following others,”

    Maybe Williams need to do what Racing Point did, which was to reverse engineer a successful car, e.g. Mercedes W10.

    1. They need massive investment first.

      1. A photo copier is not that expensive.

  3. Being 3 laps down in Hungary… did they follow some invisible track-cleaning truck?

    Just wondering… didn’t notice they were following someone (and lose any performance)…

  4. If I think in Austria it’s just a very short track which makes Williams look closer, and in hungary Russell was very good like his best qualifying last year in hungary also, couple that with haas and alfa going backwards, it makes Williams appear closer than they probably will be in upcoming races. Russell still has no f1 points, that shows how epically Williams have dropped down the order in F1.

  5. The pic shows Williams have less front wing flaps than other teams, and poss not using a cape under/behind the nose. Might these be part of the silverstone upgrade? Or maybe floor/diffuser changes? Can anyone provide more technical insight as to how they can address this issue of losing downforce in dirty air? just curious

      22nd July 2020, 14:37

      You can only come to that conclusion if it was a spec series. Each chassis is different, so you can’t judge the number of flaps, angle of flaps/wings, because not every chassis is designed the same. What we can see though is that the slowest teams in f1 usually have the least intricate aero parts, usually meaning less aero, but not always.

  6. I think the engine is to blame for any performance at all. Rest: not much changed.

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