(Motorsport-Total.com) – “It could have worked with a perfect slipstream,” believes George Russell. The Williams driver was only 0.074 seconds short of entering the second segment in qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix. The joy was still great, because the shaken traditional team has increased significantly compared to 2019 and found the connection to the midfield.
“In the session before, Alex gave me [Albon] donated a perfect slipstream. So overall I was faster on the lap, but two tenths were missing on the straights. “If you include these two tenths of a second in his Q1 time, Russell would have driven a lap of 1: 04.967 minutes ranked 14th.
“Honestly: I would not have expected that we would be so competitive,” he has to say after the first qualifying session of the 2020 season. It feels good not to start as 19th, he smiles. In the end his time (1: 05.167 minutes) was enough for 17th place. He will start in front of both Alfa Romeo.
Williams believes: Had pace for Q2
Russell beat his new teammate, Nicholas Latifi, by over six tenths. The Williams will start the Austrian Grand Prix from rows nine and ten. “We already knew we were taking a step forward, but I thought we would still be in the back row.”
If you compare the performance with that of the previous year, there is a clearly positive trend: the team improved by 0.737 seconds. Williams is one of the big winners of the first showdown.
And almost Russell would have succeeded in doing what he was denied throughout the season in 2019. Only in qualifying for the Hungarian race last year was he just as close to the Q2 entry. In Austria he missed a full 1.1 seconds on the second section last year.
“In the perfect case, he would have just had the pace to get through,” says performance engineer Dave Robson. “I suspect there are quite a number of drivers who would say the same thing, but yes, I think we were right on the threshold.”
He has to agree with Russell’s assessment: “To be honest, we were probably a little more competitive this afternoon than we expected.” The “almost perfect” qualifying was somewhat disturbed at the end by Lance Stroll, “who was a bit in the way,” reports Robson.
Can the Williams even fight Alfa Romeo and Haas in the race? “We hope so. Without a doubt, the car is a lot better than the one in Abu Dhabi last year.” He hopes Williams can now fight regularly to move into Q2.
Much of the success: Russell himself
Robson points out that temperatures will probably rise in the race. “We will see how the car reacts to this and how it deals with the tires.” His wish: “Hopefully we can drive against the Alfas, the Haas is just ahead of us.”
Team principal Claire Williams is convinced that “part” of the success “undoubtedly” comes from Russell himself. “I think we have spoken quite a bit about how well he has improved and developed in the past more than twelve months. Certainly part of it will go to him.”
In addition, the car has improved significantly. “We felt that in Barcelona, both the way the car works with the tires and the way the drivers can take advantage of it. I think it’s just a little bit better everywhere.” This is mainly due to aerodynamics.