George Russell, Williams, Bahrain International Circuit, 2021

Williams’s 2021 performance at the mercy of the wind – Russell

2021 F1 Season

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George Russell says Williams’s success in 2021 could come down to which way the wind is blowing after his single day of pre-season testing.

After completing 158 laps in the FW43B, Russell confirmed the team’s suspicions that their new car is “incredibly sensitive” to wind.

“This test has been a very productive one for the team with an incredible amount of laps, no issues reliability-wise,” says Russell.

“But we knew ahead of the season and it was confirmed over these three days that our car was incredibly sensitive to the wind. The conditions of these past three days have probably brought out the worst of the car. Which has been positive, in some ways, to analyse, but equally I think you will see that our performance will yo-yo this season and unfortunately quite often at the hands of the wind.”

Russell explains that the team’s aero philosophy for their updated challenger for 2021 means they expect to perform well when conditions are in their favour.

“The positives are that when the wind is in a favourable direction, the car’s very fast,” Russell says.

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“So when we do go to a track where the winds are lower, a track that’s maybe a bit more high speed… We talk about yaw sensitivity – the yaw angles get very high at low speed, especially when there’s a bit of wind. And that’s where our car is very poor. So the positive is there is a fast race car in there, but unfortunately, it’s almost out of our hands where we can excel.”

George Russell, Williams, Bahrain International Circuit, 2021
Russell was busy on his sole day in the Williams
The aerodynamic sensitivity of the Williams is a deliberate design choice, says Russell, intended to maximise their performance on certain tracks that suit their package in a bid to help them avoid a second consecutive point-less campaign.

“We’ve opted to go down a route to give more downforce, but at the expense of being a bit more sensitive,” he explains.

“That was our decision because, ultimately, we recognise that… if we were consistently at a set pace, as we probably were last year, we consistently won’t be scoring points.

“You’ve only got to be quick at two races, for example, and you will finish potentially eighth or ninth in the constructors championships. Haas scored three points last year. Alfa Romeo scored eight. And we want to try and be as quick as possible when the stars align.”

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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...
Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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  • 14 comments on “Williams’s 2021 performance at the mercy of the wind – Russell”

    1. Smart thinking, and strategically the best chance to beat those other two teams.
      I hope Williams soon catches up with the midfield, or ‘field’ as Alpine calls it, but until then it should be smart in beating Haas and Alfa Romeo (the 2nd might be in the ‘field’ though).

    2. Is it prudent to reveal the weaknesses even before the season starts?

      1. James Coulee
        15th March 2021, 8:32

        Well, they are setting the expectations low, which seems prudent, and it’s information that can’t be really used for any effect by the other teams (unless they want to give them a hand in solving it). I personally don’t see a problem in it.

        1. @pinakghosh, James – HAAS could install a giant wind machine just outside the circuit

          1. @gdog, or ask the Authorised Neutral Athlete’s home country for some advice on how to influence the weather through cloud seeding.

    3. This reminds me of the Lotus in 2014. They were nowhere at almost every weekend, except for Barcelona where the conditions favored their car. Grosjean put the car on P5 in qualifying and kept the car in the points on Sunday.

      1. Or Force India in 2009, being great at Spa (pole) and Monza.

        1. Their pace at Spa and Monza goes even further back, as far as 1997 (Jordan). They have perfected the way to set up a car for those types of circuits. It’s not just Spa 2009, there is also Hockenheim ’97 (Fisichella missed pole by a fraction) and Monza ’99 (Frentzen winning the race).

    4. Williams should be able to overtake Haas but that’s about it.

    5. Wasn’t the Williams quite sensitive to the wind last year as well?

    6. want to see how sensitive F1 cars can be to the wind? Stowe corner is the place to watch

    7. If the car is sensitive to how the wind is blowing, then one has to suspect it will also be sensitive to the turbulent wake behind an F1 car as well. I guess it won’t be a problem provided the drivers stay well behind the car in front, but that doesn’t bode well for getting a points finish, and especially a good points finish. I hope Williams resolve this problem quickly, but sadly I’m doubtful about that.

    8. What does sensitive to the wind mean other than low downforce? Big car?

    9. I hope they wil be less cursed this year.

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