After a brilliant qualifying session on Saturday, everyone was expecting something more.
George Russell was starting 11th on the Portuguese circuit, yet he finished P16, only two places ahead of teammate Nicholas Latifi.
“After yesterday we were all hoping for more, but that was an incredibly challenging race,” said George Russell during the post-race conference
“It was an incredible struggle, probably our most difficult race since 2020”.
The car simply didn’t have the pace, the weather conditions did not play at Williams’ favour and, as reported by Dave Robson, head of Vehicle Performance: “It was difficult in the conditions today and although we held our position at the start, it was much more difficult on the medium tyre following the early safety car”.
“We know the strengths and weaknesses of our car: it is incredibly sensitive aerodynamically. When the wind picks up it becomes a real struggle” added the young driver.
The weather was way better yesterday and that’s why we saw a much better performance from the team. As reiterated by the British driver,
“It’s a shame that today didn’t work out, but the positives are that we know the strengths and the weaknesses of the car, and so we just have to hope that moving forward we get some slightly calmer conditions which allow us to demonstrate those strengths.”
During the early part of the race, George had quite a few battles with AlphaTauri first and with Aston Martins at the restart after the yellow flag. Russell, however, is not sure those battles contributed that much to the loss in pace.
A tricky restart for GR and he drops a few positions to P15. Still early days and plenty of laps left to run 👊 pic.twitter.com/3R6QX07BDU— Williams Racing (@WilliamsRacing) May 2, 2021
“We would have dropped back regardless. It is in the nature of the car…obviously when it is so sensitive to the weather, I don’t have confidence in myself to push harder”.
“It was a race of survival, keeping the car on the track as opposed to actually racing”.
Talking about the car, Russell explained that his teammate Nicholas Latifi and him had a free choice over which front wing to use. While there is no much difference between the two performance-wise, he feels more confident with last year’s, while Latifi prefers the new one.
“We will re-assess both wings in Barcelona, but they’re very similar in performance anyway”.
Thinking of the circuit coming up next: Barcelona, George is not sure what to expect.
“We came here and in FP1 we were incredibly strong, the car seemed to be working really well and then suddenly, FP2 and FP3 we were really struggling. So, it is difficult to forecast how next week will be like.
“We’re not the only one…There are other teams struggling with their performance, you see some other drivers, like Fernando (Alonso), he was doing great yesterday in qualifying lap after lap, Daniel was very fast on Friday and was nowhere yesterday.
“These cars and these tyres are so sensitive and they work hand-in-hand. If the aero is very sensitive the tyres are not performing as they should and you’re down a spiral and equally the opposite way around: if the aero is working well, the tyres work perfectly, the driver gets more confident and the pace is great.”
“And that was me in qualifying and in Imola…I was very confident with the car, the pace was great”.
So, what is the ideal circuit for Williams’ British driver?
“Our car performs best in medium-higher speed, less slow speed head, more ninety-degree corners…equally the car seems to be going well on the straights so Monza could be a good one.
“We only got three races so far, tests were on the same circuit so we will definitely have races that best suit us, as we showed in Imola and pretty much this whole weekend, till today. Today was just a misstep but it is clear the team will improve”.