Simon Roberts believes the increased competitiveness of Williams Racing’s FW43 gave both George Russell and Nicholas Latifi some confidence during 2020, even though the team failed to break into the top ten all year long.
Russell was able to advance into Q2 nine times last season, and while Latifi only managed it on one occasion, the fact that both drivers were able to fight with the likes of the Haas F1 Team and Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN enabled them to have more fun than if they were only fighting each other.
“I think, from a driver’s point of view, the fact that they’ve now got a car they can get in the mix, I know we’re racing Haas and we’re racing Alfa Romeo, but at least the drivers have got someone to go and race and, as you saw, be a Q2 car,” said Williams Team Principal Roberts to GPFans.com.
“This gives them some confidence as well. They know they’re in a race and they know they can fight and have some fun as opposed to just driving around, making up the numbers at the back which is not great for anybody.”
Roberts, who was confirmed as Team Principal at Williams towards the end of last year, says the team made small gains during the 2020 campaign, and although they were not ‘revolutionary’, they enabled them to make improvements throughout the year.
“I guess it started positively in a way because the car we ended the year with was much different from the car we had in ’19,” said Roberts. “But we didn’t really see that early on because we were suffering getting the balance, getting the aero stability right.
“So the thing we were able to work on and really develop with the car was really around making the downforce that we had work really well.
“We introduced a couple of rear wings. They weren’t revolutionary but they were developments and it was really a feature that, in finding more downforce from ’19, certain parts of the car got overstressed.
“So wings that were perfectly happy suddenly weren’t so happy and that was our main focus in the first part of the season.
“The first time we went well it was because we ran the new low downforce rear wing in Spa, so you can kind of look back retrospectively and see little steps that we’ve made and that has been good.”