After a heartening first day of pre-season testing, Williams Racing has completed a successful first part of a test programme they hope will see them rise up towards the front of the grid, demonstrating significant progress since last term.
Williams spent most of last season languishing at or near the back of the field, and are hoping that some of the many measures they’ve implemented in the interim – new key personnel, new processes and procedures and a modified structure will soon bear fruit, in the form of on-track results.
While it’s also true that the team would find it difficult not to improve on last year’s disastrous pre-season, if what we’ve seen so far is anything to go by, then progress has certainly been made.
George Russell planted his Williams FW43 firmly in the middle of the pack from the get-go on morning 1, and seemed more than capable of running with those around him – some of whom were on softer, quicker tyres.
As we all know, many teams don’t like to reveal their full hand too soon in testing, and so it’s likely that times will pick up towards the end of the second week – particularly those you’d expect to see right at the front – and so George might find the competition a little stiffer in the days and weeks to come.
Nicholas Latifi, in his first official F1 session as a full-time Williams driver, found himself a very commendable 12th at the end of day one, and though an issue with his Mercedes power unit meant he spent most of the day in the garage as his car was rebuilt, he no doubt goes into the weekend break heartened by what he’s seen in his new car.
Everyone at Williams will take an enormous amount of heart from what they’ve seen so far.
We said prior to the season that any progress was good progress and from what we’ve seen so far Williams Racing is a world away from the team that began 2019.
“I’m smiling” said Claire Williams when approached about how she felt the test was going, seemingly at once both delighted and yet slightly reluctant to acknowledge the great strides her team appear to have made, for fear of it all suddenly evaporating.
If the progress Williams have demonstrated this week continues into a further positive three days testing next week, and on to the season opener in Australia in March, then we can look forward to more smiles to come.