After an eyecatching first season where he trounced his team-mate Robert Kubica in all but points (Kubica scored a single point for tenth place when both Alfas were disqualified from the German Grand Prix over technical irregularities), most notably 21-0 in qualifying, George Russell knows that there are still areas in which he can improve as he approaches his second season in F1.
While he demonstrated great calmness under pressure, an optimism that helped him and his team through a difficult season, great race-craft, and above all a fantastic turn of speed, his inability to make the most of the crucial couple of minutes between lights out and the end of lap 1 meant that he missed out on many more opportunities to fight with the cars around him.
Too many times his team-mate, often comfortably slower in qualifying, would jump George at the start and he’d be forced to spend the next chunk of the race attempting to engineer a pass, by which point the rest of the field was long gone.
“My story of the last half of the season has been that of getting overtaken by Robert on the first lap, not making good enough starts, not being aggressive enough, then having stronger pace and struggling to overtake him before overtaking him at the mid-point of the race” George told F1i.com
Russell’s tardy starts in 2019 were largely masked by Williams’ pace deficit to the rest of field and, providing he was able to make it past his team-mate (he was on all but a couple of occasions), second last was usually the best he could expect irrespective of where he found himself at the end of lap 1.
However, as Williams‘ competitiveness increases (fingers crossed!) or as is just as likely he moves to a team at the sharp end of the grid (Mercedes), Russell’s starts will become much more significant, and given the fine margins in F1 could determine whether he wins races and championships or narrowly misses out.