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F1 | US GP | Williams’ Dave Robson explains why Russell didn’t give Latifi a tow in Q1, and gives insight on the team’s approach to Sunday’s race

Head of Vehicle Performance at Williams, Dave Robson sheds light on why George Russell wasn’t more helpful towards teammate Nicholas Latifi in qualifying, given the Briton would start towards the back of the field, irrespective of where he qualified, because of a penalty for an engine change.

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F1 | US GP | Williams’ Dave Robson explains why Russell didn’t give Latifi a tow in Q1, and gives insight on the team’s approach to Sunday’s race
Fuente imagen: Twitter @WilliamsRacing

The Williams team didn’t have the smoothest of days on Saturday at the Circuit of The Americas. George Russell got through to Q2, but had his only flying lap deleted due to an infringement of track limits at the exit of turn 9, and ended up P15.

An engine change on Friday meant the Briton went into qualifying knowing he would not start where he qualified. However, he had one objective in Q2: to beat Alpine’s Fernando Alonso and Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel. As all three of them have back of the grid penalties, and whoever qualified in front of the other would start ahead, so it was a battle to see who could start the race in 18th place.

But in that process, teammate Latifi ended up being knocked out of qualifying at the first segment. Robson explains the team’s thinking and why they didn’t orchestrate a move for Russell to give a tow for the Canadian:

"We thought Nicholas had the pace to go through on his own, without any help from George, he just didn’t get it together for one lap. And we were conscious with George, that Sebastian and Fernando could beat him, which they clearly did. We had a chance of outqualifying both of those, they’re the sort of cars that we’re a tiny bit slower than, we are able to compete with. We wanted to let George try to beat them and hoped to start ahead of them tomorrow."

"The pace today was OK, but the final result was a bit frustrating. We had the pace to go through, and really George could’ve outqualified both Vettel and Alonso - it wouldn’t have made a huge difference to where we start tomorrow, but it would’ve been nice to have done it anyway."

Speaking about the challenges the teams found at COTA after two days of running, Robson says he ‘can’t put a finger on it’, but believes the challenge lies mainly in the track coupled with unusually hot weather in Austin:

"We were a bit unsure on what to expect coming here. We’ve been here in 2019, but the car was really quite difficult [at the time].

"I can’t put a finger on it, but I believe it’s that tarmac roughness, there’s some patches around the circuit and the way the tyres interact with that, and certainly from what we found, observing from the outside what that means is, that the tyres tend to slide around quite a lot here, not helped by the track temperature being pretty high, which is quite unusual here this time of the year.

"Even when the car is working quite well, and the drivers feel the lap is quite strong, then actually, we’re still – they describe it as the tyres that are never really fully biting, so they tend to slide around, but that’s perfectly manageable for a lap, but clearly we saw yesterday that - not just us, but many cars in the field - had some difficulties over a race distance, so that’s where the challenge is for tomorrow."

Looking ahead to the race, Robson made it clear that Williams will not perform any kind of unusual strategy to try and get something out of the weekend, saying that ‘being different just for the sake of being different’ will not work, and says the team is in a good position with its tyre choice for Sunday, especially with George Russell:

"I think being different just for the sake of being different probably won’t work, it would rely on some enormous amount of luck, like a well-timed red flag or something like that, which you can never rely on.

"We’ve left ourselves, on both cars actually, with a good selection of compounds, particularly George, he has two primes [hards] and two options [mediums]– he scrubbed one of those in Q2 – and he’s got a new qualifying compound as well [soft], so he’s got a full set of possibilities to work with.

"First thing to do is see what the weather is like, how the track is, see what the tyre degradation is like, and then try to notch our way through and see how he gets on the first lap. Doing something different just for the sake of being different, I don’t think is best for us, we’ll try to exploit the range of tyres we’ve got"

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