Would it be fair to say that we could all benefit from a break from talking about what’s happening behind the scenes at Williams F1 for a little while at least?
Oh, you know, the whole late to pre-season testing/slow, potentially illegal FW42/insufficient spare parts/Paddy Lowe‘s leave of absence, thing?
So looking forward to the forthcoming Grand Prix Season and what could happen on-track, and with the likelihood of another year of struggles for Williams Racing, drivers Robert Kubica and George Russell could find that their only competition is each other.
So which of the two drivers is likely to end the season on top?
The longer pre-season progressed, the clearer the (already quite obvious!) differences between the two drivers became.
In George Russell, Williams have a young rookie, on the back of a stellar couple of years the outcome of which was two international titles on the bounce – GP3 and then F2 – before being picked up by Williams.
His approach is super professional and he’s unfalteringly positive in his outlook:
“We won’t be out on track but everyone is working as hard as possible to get it sorted” he said.
“I don’t think it [Williams’ late arrival to testing] will compromise us too much to be honest.”
“I feel we’re in a good spot. The car isn’t in a perfect window right now but I feel like it’s definitely got the potential.”
“I think everybody’s happy with today’s performance – not in terms of lap times but in terms of no issues” Russell said of his team after missing the start of the test.
This positivity is in stark comparison to his battle-hardened veteran of 76 Grand Prix team-mate Robert Kubica, who offered a different take on Williams position:
“I’ve been here since last Friday. I’ve never waited so long to get 12-14 laps that I could drive my own pace.” he commented.
“We are not in the position we want to be, especially from my side and an engineering point of view”
“I think there’s still something to put on the car, probably not a lot, but for sure there are things that were compromised.”
“Going to Australia without a lot of testing is not helping, but that’s reality.”
Kubica, 13 years Russell’s senior, returns to the sport after a hiatus of eight years, and while he has the experience of five seasons in F1, that experience was gained in a very different Formula and so very little will translate to how to drive a 2019 Formula 1 car.
With this, combined with his apparent naturally critical outlook and question marks around his physical ability to wrestle a F1 car around a Grand Prix circuit for two hours, it could be argued that Robert Kubica carries with him a significant amount of inertia.
Giving Williams some counter-balance to this inertia, Russell’s career trajectory, the enthusiasm of youth and his seemingly naturally positive mindset amount to a comparable amount of momentum.
And it’s this momentum, combined with the incentive of the knowledge that he must beat his teammate fairly convincingly if he wants to figure in Mercedes thinking in their search for a successor for Lewis Hamilton as and when he decides to call it a day and I think we have a winner.
Verdict: George Russell to finish higher in the 2019 F1 World Drivers Championship than Robert Kubica.