With less than one month to go before the pre-season testings are underway, George Russell looks at the recent past trying to learn as much as possible out of it. In particular, he reckons the huge gap Williams had to the midfield competitors at the beginning of 2019 as much as the massive steps forward the team has made throughout the season.
Just one year ago Williams was indeed presenting not the official 2019 car, but only its livery. That was a clear warning signal, confirmed just few weeks later when the team was forced to desert the first days of testing due to the car not being ready in time. Furthermore the championship kicked-off with Robert Kubica running for several rounds with a broken car because of the lack of spare components to fix it with.
With time, Williams, in particular with George Russell, managed to reach the back of the pack with some great battles with other teams both in qualifyings and races. But as the young Englishman says, rebuilding process went slower than originally predicted.
“The team took a big reset with an aero philosophy and we had to take that hit in performance to rebuild those foundations, so starting the season we were not surprised [with] the position we were in. We did hope to improve at a greater rate than we did, but those foundations took longer to put in place than we all anticipated.”
The recent improvements stamp a warm smile on Russell’s face, who is optimist for 2020: “Now, the rate of improvement we are on is really strong. We can really see that in the windtunnel tracker of the downforce we had at the start of the year, to what we have in the car now, to what we believe we will be starting next year.” And about next year’s competitiveness of the car, Russell is quite confident: “The only thing we don’t know is how much everybody else will improve. I can tell you now that if everybody else doesn’t improve at all, we’ll be well and truly in that fight.”
“We believe we should be improving at a much greater rate into next year than we improved over this year,” he said. “That’s a big reason to be positive. If we [had] started  with this car, we would have been fighting well and truly at the start of the year because we’ve put a decent amount of lap time on the car.”
With such a big effort to make, drivers will have to be ready and fighty as well, also looking forward for the 2021 rule change: “I want to see progress in myself, and I want to see progress in the car. I do believe that next year we will be stronger. Going to 2021, which will have all of those foundations built again, and it should definitely be well and truly on its way.”
With such a young line-up (including also Nicholas Latifi, the only rookie on the 2020 F1 grid) the improvement margin is massive, and a strong season fo Williams is more needed than ever.