George Russell says the Williams Racing team has turned a corner, and the car improvement rate within the Grove-based team has improved significantly and is ‘really strong’.
Williams endured a torrid 2019, scoring just one point all year long, with Russell the only driver on the grid not to score points. The Mercedes-Benz protégés season came on the back of winning the GP3 Series and FIA Formula 2 in consecutive seasons.
Chief Technical Officer Paddy Lowe left Williams early during the 2019 campaign when it was clear the car was well off the pace of any of its rivals, with the situation not being helped by the car being late turning up for pre-season testing.
Russell says the team has gone through a ‘big reset’ with its aerodynamic philosophy following its failings of 2019, but the time it took to improve came at a much slower rate than they were hoping more, meaning their whole campaign last year was a near-write off.
He believes that had this kind of development rate happened during the last season, the team would be embroiled in the midfield battle for points.
“The team took a big reset with an aero philosophy and we had to take that hit in performance to rebuild those foundations, so starting the season we were not surprised [with] the position we were in,” Russell is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com.
“We did hope to improve at a greater rate than we did, but those foundations took longer to put in place than we all anticipated. [But] now, the rate of improvement we are on is really strong.
“We can really see that in the wind tunnel tracker of the downforce we had at the start of the year, to what we have in the car now, to what we believe we will be starting next year.
“The only thing we don’t know is how much everybody else will improve. I can tell you now that if everybody else doesn’t improve at all, we’ll be well and truly in that fight.”
Russell says he has optimism heading into the new campaign, feeling 2020 can only be better than in 2019, and he hopes he and new team-mate Nicholas Latifi can fight with drivers in other teams rather than only against each other.
“Everybody has improved but we believe we should be improving at a much greater rate into next year than we improved over this year,” added Russell. “That’s a big reason to be positive.
“If we [had] started  with this car, we would have been fighting well and truly at the start of the year because we’ve put a decent amount of lap time on the car.
“But everyone else [improved as well, so] on the eye it does not look like we made that much progress, whereas we’ve [actually] made the same amount as everyone else has done.”