On an episode of Formula 1’s newest podcast F1 Nation, Williams Racing driver George Russell said that he believes the team has “an opportunity” to take advantage of potential “rust” on his rivals when the season resumes.
If the plans to start the season with the Austrian Grand Prix on 5 July go as planned, it potentially will have been five months since drivers were behind the wheel for pre-season testing. On top of that, it will have been seven months since the sport raced competitively.
The Briton believes that this long absence from the track will be tough for drivers to re-acclimate themselves to, and he has been using his quarantine time, aside from esports races, to maximise his fitness levels ahead of season’s resumption.
“[The lockdown] just gives myself the chance to nail my fitness even more,” Russell said on F1 Nation.
“But I think for all of us, it’s going to be incredibly hard. You can train as much as you want, but you obviously lose race fitness.
“Running around the garden or doing weights in the gym is not the same as driving at 200mph around Silverstone, and that g-force is going to hit us hard that first practice session when we get back.
“But like I said, I’m doing everything I can to be prepared for that moment.
“Usually everybody’s at an incredibly high level,” he added. “All the drivers are the best in the world and we’re always racing so much so you just get into this groove.
“But I think [the delayed start] allows people to hopefully get a bit of an advantage when we go back.
“If people are still rusty, if people are going to make mistakes, it’s going to be in the opening few races, so I need to make sure I’m not one of them.
“Also, from the team’s perspective, I need to try and motivate the guys around me to say, ‘Right, this is an opportunity that we’re not really going to get ever again, so let’s make sure we make the most of these opening few races when we get back.’”
Russell is a bright young talent on the grid at only 22 years old, and was crowned the 2018 FIA Formula 2 champion. He joined the grid with Williams last season, and is a part of the Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport junior driver program.