George Russell has seen enough progress from Williams in a difficult 2019 to make him feel optimistic towards a second campaign with the team.
Williams’ 2019 season began slowly when it was late to pre-season testing in Barcelona and the Williams FW42 proving to be the slowest car on the grid by some margin when it finally arrived.
But the team have worked tirelessly throughout, steadily moving towards the midfield pack with a series of updates that have been able to unlock some – if not all – of the performance of an FW42 hampered by poor aero since day 1.
The latest of these updates was a new front wing that caused quite a kerfuffle (for all the wrong reasons) in Japan.
This new wing could be a significant step towards switching on the performance of next year’s FW43 and allowing Williams to reverse their two year slide to the bottom of the timesheets.
Speaking about the difference the upgraded wing brought, George Russell – speaking on crash.com – said: “From within, it’s definitely a nicer car to drive. It is obviously, always difficult to make huge leaps forward for any team but I think the foundations we have in place now are really positive going into next year.”
Formula 1 is set for a major regulatory, operational and financial overhaul in 2021 which should allow for closer racing and independent constructors, such as Williams, to compete with the manufacturer teams more closely on and off the track.
While this is, in theory, great for the sport (it’s likely to be met with some resistance from the teams it’s designed to hamstring) the knock on effect is that 2020 isn’t likely to be much of a departure from 2019 with everyone focused on the mammoth task of designing and building cars, engines and components to a completely new spec the year after.
So while I’m not expecting there to be too much of a departure from the status quo in the next 12 months but, like George, I’m still optimistic that Williams can out-develop its rivals and make substantial inroads into their current advantage & start scoring regularly ahead of an important 2021.