Jenson Button’s former race engineer and current Williams' Head of Vehicle Performance Dave Robson spoke to MotorLat and other selected media on the weekend of the Azerbaijan GP and told the attendants about the best attributes each of Williams’ drivers has, even though questions fired at him were almost all about George Russell and his consistently good performances.
“I mean he’s just too good. In terms of driving, he has always been very strong. But in terms of his understanding of the whole game that we’re playing, what we need to get right, and what we need help with, he has just improved endlessly. It’s what we all need in the team; he has particularly taken it and strives in leading,” said Robson about the 23 years old Briton.
“His technical understanding of what the cars have to do, how the tyres have to work, and some other compromises is now as good as anyone in the pit lane. His relationship with everyone is extremely good. He is very good to have around and he is always positive.”
When asked about Nicholas Latifi's consistency issues, Robson showed confidence in his driver and said he just needs some more luck and the confidence will be back on him, and with that, the good results.
“He either just seems to get unlucky or just not quite string it together in qualifying when it counts. In qualifying [in Baku] I think he just got unlucky as he had three new sets of tyres in Q1. I think part of it just stands to having George as a teammate, and I think Niki just needs to stay strong, he’s got anything he needs, the laps, his ability to drive the car, and he just got to believe in himself to do it when it really counts. He is very talented, just needs to nail one lap and I think we will see his momentum built.”
Following the George Russel momentum at the press conference and taking the drivers market rumors this year that mostly evolves around the youngest William driver, former McLaren engineer was asked about how George has emerged different or more mature since the time he drove the Mercedes last year at Bahrain.
“Not sure exactly how much the steering wheels are different so, I think he actually did not have to bring something specific back. I don’t think anything really did come, I mean it was already there. He has done plenty of tests and has plenty of experience of working with those guys but I don’t think it particularly changed much when he came back. There is always hunger and desire to have a quicker car.”
And about how Russell has worked together with the team to improve the last couple of bad years that forced the Williams family to step aside from their team for the better of it, Robson has it very clear, to lose George Russell would be such a hard pillow to swallow for Williams.
“He can take a good part of the credit. 2019 was an incredibly difficult year but it’s not just George’s on track it is all his work on the simulator and data gathering. Even his positivity at frustrating moments is incredibly constructive so yeah, he’s played a big role in the last couple of years.” He talks, people listen. Perhaps at the beginning, he didn’t always get it right but he didn’t take it long for it to sort it out and understand.”
“To lose him would be a huge loss, it’s been fantastic working with him right from when we first put him through evaluation. It was obvious he had some genuinely amazing, outstanding talent with the car and it’s been a great journey to be with him. He’s generally very quick; we’ve all put in the time and effort to help him where he needed to be helped, to guide him. And I can’t say but it would be a real shame to miss those benefits from him. If we could keep him it would be fantastic but we will have to see what comes out.”