After a day and a half of testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, George Russell is confident that Williams Racing will not just be making up the numbers this season, with the 2018 FIA Formula 2 champion saying that the FW43 is a big improvement of its predecessor from 2019.
The Briton was the first driver to take to the track for the Grove-based team on Wednesday morning, completing seventy-three laps of the Spanish track and setting a best time of 1:18.168, which was over nine-tenths of a second quicker than he managed in Qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix last May.
Williams missed the first test of 2019 and as a result endured their toughest year in their history, scoring only one point across the twenty-one-race schedule, but Russell was the first driver to hit the circuit when the green light illuminated on Wednesday morning.
Russell says the handling of the FW43 is better than he had in 2019 with the FW42 and as a result he felt confident to push the car to the limit early on.
“I was happy with this morning’s running, completing 73 laps, and the feeling was positive,” said Russell on Wednesday. “We had an intense programme planned, and it was important to get out from the beginning so that we could get back into the pits first and get on with the day.
The general handling of the car is much better, and from lap one I had confidence to push the car to the limit. The FW43 is an improvement on last year, the lap times are the important thing and we will only know at the end of next week where we are.
“Overall, it has been a very positive morning, we just need to focus on our programme and get the most out of testing. We are excited for the new season, I am confident that we will be racing this year.”
‘Productive’ First Full Day Despite Lunchtime Delays
Russell returned to the car for a full day of testing on Thursday, completing another one hundred and sixteen laps, with his best time of the day good enough to place him seventh fastest of the thirteen drivers who participated across the two sessions.
The twenty-two-year-old felt it was a productive day, testing a lot of aerodynamic parts and understand how the FW43 reacted in different scenarios, even if there was a small delay around the lunch break that prevented them from hitting the track straight away when the session resumed.
“It was a productive day,” Russell commented after Thursday’s running. “We have tested a lot of aero items to understand if everything correlates in the wind tunnel and CFD.
“We spent this morning doing a lot of rake running, which is beneficial for the short term and productive in the long run. We had an issue over lunch which delayed our running this afternoon.
“Although everything did not go to plan, it was still productive, and this is what winter testing is all about. We will keep pushing to get the most out of these six days of testing.”