Williams Racing‘s pace during Friday practice at the Circuit of the Americas for the United States Grand Prix was just as the team predicted.
George Russell‘s first experience of the circuit came in Free Practice 2 after sitting out the first session to allow Reserve Driver Nicholas Latifi track time in the FW42.
The Brit completed thirty-seven laps in the afternoon to finish nineteenth with a time that was a full second slower than his nearest challenger above him, which is Romain Grosjean, who had set his time on a harder compound tyre before crashing out.
Russell found the track conditions not ideal but the bumpy parts of the track “added more character”.
“I really enjoyed driving this circuit, it has a nice flow to it and felt very fast, although our pace was as the team predicted,” Russell said.
“Track conditions were bumpy but didn’t compromise the lap too much. It wasn’t ideal, but it added more character to the circuit and I’m looking forward to getting back out there over the weekend. On a side note, good luck to the England players in the Rugby World Cup final.”
Robert Kubica had his first Formula 1 taste of track action in the United States of America and it proved to be a struggle once again for the Pole.
The driver who has accumulated Williams’ only point in 2019, was half a second off Russell’s time in the afternoon but completed sixty-one laps throughout the day.
“The conditions were quite extreme; the bumps are more like drops in the elevation rather than big impacts into the chassis,” Kubica shared.
“We focused a lot on next year’s Pirelli tyre constructions evaluating drivability and aero impacts. It was my first time at COTA and driving a Formula One car here is a great feeling. It’s one of the best new generation tracks on the Grand Prix calendar.”
Nicholas Latifi’s practice session in the morning was cut short thanks to a gearbox problem. The driver who currently lies second in the FIA Formula 2 Championship, was only able to do four laps in total before touring his FW42 back to the pits.
“The conditions were tricky out there today, it was cool and very bumpy, so I wasn’t taking any risks,” the Canadian quoted.
“Unfortunately, I only had two push laps because of a gearbox issue. It is an amazing track to drive, even with the little laps that I did. All in all, it was very enjoyable.”
Senior Race Engineer Dave Robson was pleased to see the work done from his drivers on Friday, despite the tricky track conditions.
“With additional 2020 tyres available, and with Nicholas in the car again, we had a very busy programme planned for both of today’s sessions,” Robson said.
“Unfortunately, a gearbox issue early in FP1 heavily curtailed Nicholas’s running, and cost us several important tests. It was also a shame for him as he was looking forward to a busy session. In contrast, Robert enjoyed a trouble-free session and completed all the planned running, gaining us some valuable data both on the 2020 tyres and the setup of the car for this weekend. Throughout FP1 the track temperature remained very cold but, nonetheless, the tyres behaved quite well and we gained some useful data ahead of February’s winter testing.
“Due to another impressive display from the mechanics, by this afternoon’s session George’s car had been repaired and both drivers enjoyed a trouble-free session in much warmer conditions. Having lost some of the planned experiments in FP1, and with George needing to understand the nature and bumps of the Texas circuit, we opted to revise the FP2 programme a little. Both drivers did a good job to capture everything we were after and, as a result, we have gained significant additional data on the tyres and the car.
“We now concentrate our efforts on maximising the result for both drivers this weekend. We are expecting some changes to the weather tomorrow, which will impact the cars’ behaviour and we have also gathered some good data to allow us to reoptimize the cars for the circuit’s condition. With later sessions tomorrow, we look forward to some representative running in FP3, which will allow us to finalise our preparation for qualifying.”