George Russell and Nicholas Latifi have voiced their concerns about the FW43B after the first practice sessions of the 2021 FIA Formula One World Championship.
Williams Racing began a new life under the ownership of an American investment group Dorliton Capital after the Williams family stepped down from the team after the race at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza last year, and their eyes will be firmly placed on preventing a fourth consecutive year at the bottom of the FIA Formula One World Championship.
Not only would the British racing team have concerns about their own cars in the first practice sessions of the season, but they would also have closely followed their competitors’ performance, notably, Haas F1 Team, who was the slowest car on the track throughout Friday.
Russell, who will see 2021 as an audition for a potential Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team seat for next season, was the quickest compared to his team-mate, setting a lap time of 1:34.127 which resulted in the British driver finishing seventeenth in the morning session. The twenty-three-year-old managed to better his time in the afternoon, going nearly one and a half seconds quicker with a lap time of 1:32.331, but remained seventeenth fastest overall.
He was surprised by the FW43B pace in the high fuel runs but is wary of how sensitive the car is to wind directions, which were a problem for teams throughout the Friday sessions.
“It was obviously tricky conditions today and I think the track temperature was up at about 48 degrees at some points in FP1, which is incredibly hot. FP2 felt pretty good and our high fuel pace was better than expected even with these gusty winds, so I was pleasantly surprised by that,” Russell said.
“Equally the wind is changing so much at the moment, which affects everybody a huge amount, but I believe our car is more sensitive to these changes. Fingers crossed it is either calm or in a favourable direction tomorrow and Sunday. I think it will be a long and tricky race, but I am looking forward to it.”
“I wasn’t satisfied in FP2 on the low or high fuel” – Nicholas Latifi
Latifi, who will embark on his second season in F1, was only marginally slower than Russell in the morning session, only two-tenth behind his team-mate with a lap time of 1:34.340 to finish eighteenth. However, the afternoon session wasn’t as close, setting a lap time of 1:33.400, eight-tenths slower than Russell to finish nineteenth.
The Canadian wasn’t happy at all with either low or high fuel runs in FP2, revealing that he suffered different in both practice sessions.
“It was a difficult one today. It was very tricky, and I was struggling to find the right balance with the car. We had different issues in different practice sessions,” Latifi said.
“FP1 was one thing and we tried to solve it and went too far the other way. I wasn’t satisfied in FP2 on the low or high fuel, so we have a lot of work to do tonight. We need to dig into the data and see what we can find.”