Looking at fourteenth place and a DNF on the results sheet may not seem like a good day at the office, but Williams Racing’s Head of Vehicle Performance Dave Robson says that very record is one that hints at more of a promising season ahead.
Mercedes junior George Russell came home to finish fourteenth after a ‘well-managed’ two-stop strategy saw him beat competitors Haas F1 Team and the likes of Aston Martin Racing’s Sebastian Vettel, whereas Canadian Nicholas Latifi’s race ended prematurely after a boost failure which sent him into a spin after driveability issues.
Despite the strife, Robson says the pace shows promise and that testing’s graft has ‘paid off’.
“We had a mixed day today, with George showing good pace and race craft to finish P14, and close behind Ocon; all the work, which we began in testing two weeks ago, paid off with three well-managed stints.” Said Robson.
“Unfortunately, Nicholas’s race became very difficult early on when a suspected boost leak in the power unit cost him power and driveability. He was having to manage the power unit extensively, which began to cost him a lot of time and ultimately caused him to spin. Once he was no longer able to stay ahead of Schumacher, we chose to retire him from the race to protect the car from any potential damage.”
Robson eluded to the fact that the team now have experience and a ‘clearer picture’ under their belt for the next race in Imola, which will help them further develop their FW43B challenger. The track itself is one that saw Russell narrowly miss out on points after a costly mistake saw him slam into the barriers towards the end of a superior race.
Still, the pace last year proves as a good indication that the team will have a high chance of making it into the second part of Qualifying and possibly even scoring points. The ‘fantastic track’ is one Robson himself is very fond of.
“It’s good to get the opening race of the season under our belts and we now head back to base with a clearer picture of the relative strengths and weaknesses of the FW43B. We have a couple of weeks to review and improve the car before we regroup for the next race in Imola.“
“We are looking forward to going back to such a fantastic track and are confident that we can combine the experience gained this weekend with the success that we enjoyed in Imola last year.”