George Russell says he is not interested in only fighting with Williams Racing team-mate Robert Kubica at the back of the field, and a lot of work needs to be done to close up the big gap that lies between them and the rest of the pack.
Russell ended up sixteenth, two laps down on race winner Valtteri Bottas during Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix, and he was well adrift of fifteenth placed Antonio Giovinazzi at the chequered flag, while team-mate Kubica trailed behind in seventeenth.
Such was the pace deficit to everyone else, Williams used the race as an extended test session, trying each of the three compound of Pirelli tyres on Russell’s car to try and get some knowledge on how to use them that could come in useful later in the season, but the 2018 FIA Formula 2 champion insists he is not in Formula 1 to only fight to avoid being last.
“I feel happy that I brought the car home with no dramas,” said Russell. “I physically feel fine and it was a good first race from my side but obviously it is disappointing that we are so far behind the pace.
“We did an additional pitstop to try all three compounds of the tyres, so that is unfortunately where we are at the moment. We have got a lot of work to do tomorrow to understand and hopefully improve from there.
“I am not interested in fighting Robert for last, we need to work together to make this right. Overall, I can be proud and pleased with myself because we went into this weekend knowing what to expect and I achieved pretty much all of my goals.”
After Qualifying nineteenth on Saturday, Russell revealed that the team has found a ‘fundamental problem’ with the FW42 and it will take a lot of work over a number of races to get the car where it can fight with those ahead.
“There is one fundamental which I don’t want to discuss publicly,” Russell is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com. “We understand what that is, but it doesn’t mean we can wake up on Monday morning and rectify it.
“To change something so fundamental will take months of development, work in the simulator and designers working out how to do it, and that is what needs to be done at the moment.
“Unfortunately we are looking at a number of races before we are going to be able to fight, and that is just where we are at the moment. I think once we have solved that fundamental there will be a big leap.
“We will probably still be at the back of the grid, but with the chance to fight rather than like it is at the moment. The fact is we don’t have any hope because we are too far behind.”