Russell has 2019 flashbacks after “incredible struggle” at windy Algarve

2021 F1 season

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George Russell described his Portuguese Grand Prix as “an incredible struggle” after his best qualifying performance for Williams yielded only a 16th place finish.

The team entertained hopes of challenging for a points finish after Russell took 11th on the grid, missing a place in Q3 by less than a tenth of a second. But he said the team’s highly wind-sensitive car performed too poorly in traffic to make any progress.

“It was probably the most difficult race we’ve had since 2019,” said Russell, referring to his gruelling first season with the team when their car was the slowest in the field by far.

“We’ve said it since the beginning – we know the strengths and we know the weaknesses of our car. It’s incredibly sensitive aerodynamically. And we saw at Imola when conditions were calmer, the performance was there. We saw yesterday in qualifying, the conditions calmed down for that Q2 run, and the performance was there, as it was in FP1.

“Today it was nowhere. And unfortunately, that’s the nature of the beast with our car at the moment. We’ve had three races now, two of which have been very gusty and very exposed circuits, so fingers crossed we’re not talking about this all season.”

His team mate Nicholas Latifi slipped to 18th at the finish and took the chequered flag behind Mick Schumacher – the first time a Haas has beaten a running rival this year.

Russell said the car was too sensitive at the start of the race to capitalise on his strong qualifying performance. “There is no confidence in myself or Nicholas to attack on those first laps,” he said. “We’re constantly on the back foot, battling from behind.

“It was a race of survival, keeping the car on the track as opposed to actually racing. One of the hardest races we’ve ever done. So it was a real shame because the car does have potential.”

However he remains optimistic that the team will be able to race better in calmer conditions later in the season.

“We have been at now two races out of three very gusty, very windy [conditions], everyone up and down the pit lane is talking about it. Bahrain and Portimao are very exposed. Let’s just see as the season progresses.

“It’s clear there is pace in the car, but the stars have to be aligned for us, or else we are just going to be nowhere really as we were today.”

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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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  • 5 comments on “Russell has 2019 flashbacks after “incredible struggle” at windy Algarve”

    1. I don’t think there is pace at all in Williams. They can configure it for a flying lap. But with traffic (or wind) it just doesn’t work. Think it loses downforce, and maybe increase tyre wear. But points this year, only in anormal conditions. Like Rain.

      1. Paul Bertenshaw
        3rd May 2021, 9:00

        I suggest you watch a re run of the Imola race, where Williams had pace in quali and the race.

        Reply moderated
        1. someone or something
          3rd May 2021, 13:13

          Actually, his comment is perfectly in line with Imola:
          Both Williams had pace on flying laps (hence their Q2 participation) – no contradiction here.
          Russell had pace in the race, but in anomalous, rainy conditions – no contradiction here.

          I don’t think I agree with Adunlucas’ opinion that there is no pace at all in the Williams. There’s only so much you can do with a qualifying setup, and it makes little sense for them to focus on Saturday glory runs when they need every single point they can get in order to beat Haas. No, I think they’re just struggling with stability, which can be kept at bay for the duration of a quick lap, but tends to hurt them exponentially more over the course of a race.

          But the thing is: His conclusion does not contradict anything that happened during the Imola weekend, so there’s nothing to gain from rewatching the race.

    2. The perfect fairytale F1 return story after 7 years away for Robert Kubica came up to the 2019 Williams stumbling block

      1. someone or something
        3rd May 2021, 22:22

        To be fair, if the 2019 Williams had been worthy of a fairytale, the stumbling block would’ve been Kubica himself.

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