The last couple of years have been quite tough for Williams: in the last three years the team only managed to score 8 points in total, finishing consistently last in the standings. But this season things took a turn for the better. A double points finish following a chaotic Hungarian GP and a podium in Spa’s non racing Sunday later Williams is now standing well ahead of Haas and Alfa Romeo, with 23 points scored so far.
George Russell has been undeniably outstanding this season, especially in qualifying. Only Max Verstappen managed to deny him a pole position start after a marvellous flying lap at the Belgian GP and he started the race from P3 just last weekend in Sochi. A talented driver for sure, but also an improved car from the Williams we saw in the last few seasons.
“George for sure is a very, very good driver but when you can do these kind of things it shows the car isn’t as bad as people think,” pointed out Max Verstappen.
“[You can] score points, have a good qualifying, also in Spa, that car is not a Red Bull or Mercedes but they also ran more downforce [and] everything starts to become a bit closer.”
Next season Russell will leave Williams to drive a Mercedes alongside Lewis Hamilton. How challenging will it be for the Brit? Not so much according to Verstappen.
“At the end of the day the most important is you feel comfortable in the car and it suits you and you go fast,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter if there’s 400 people or 1,000 people [working at the team], you will get used to that as when you sit in the car you think about lap time and want to go as fast as you can.”
Last December Russell had already gotten a taste of how things will be like at Mercedes, when he stepped in place of Lewis Hamilton who had tested positive for Covid 19. An incredible – and rather unfortunate – debut that saw him miss out on pole position for only 0.026s and lose victory for a puncture after leading the Sakhir Grand Prix for 59 laps. Hence expectations are he won’t have a hard time adapting to a bigger team.
“A good driver can handle these kinds of things very easily,” concluded Verstappen.