George Russell received general acclaim from fans and pundits alike for a solid maiden season in Formula 1 in 2019.
Despite the self-evident limitations of the disappointing Williams FW42 package, the rookie acquitted himself well and regularly whitewashed his more experienced team mate Robert Kubica over the course of the year.
But as he waits for his sophomore season to finally get underway, Russell admits that he is no longer content with merely running at the back of the grid and wants to achieve much more in 2020.
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“I will definitely try to be stronger,” Russell told Autosport magazine. “This year I need to be getting my elbows out a bit more, because I can’t be fannying around at the back!
“It’s an area of my driving where I definitely didn’t do a good enough job last year,” he reflected.
But to make an impression on the race he needs to hardware to allow him to put him into the thick of it.
Fortunately pre-season testing demonstrated that the new car certainly appears to be a step forward on last year’s model – not that it could have been much worse, to be completely frank.
“It was a strange situation we found ourselves in,” Russell said of his rookie year. “The cars ahead would just clear off and I’d just be racing with Robert.
“It was my first year and I didn’t want to take any unnecessary risks in that regard,” he added.
That caution paid off, and Russell completed the first 14 races of the season without incident or retirement. The only significant blemish on his record for the year was a clash with Romain Grosjean that led to retirement in Singapore.
The only other DNF of the year came the following race with a mechanical failure at Sochi. But missing out on any points all season clearly rankled the 22-year-old, especially when Kubica lucked into tenth place in Germany after Alfa Romeo’s drivers were demoted by penalties from the stewards.
Now paired up with Nicholas Latifi, Russell insisted that points weren’t that important to him or the team in the grand scheme of things, and that everyone was staying realistic.
“I guess a great outcome would be out-qualifying and beating another car, considering where we were last year,” he suggested. “But that’s not exactly the goal.
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“We’re not going out there to try and achieve that, we’re going to try and get the most out of our car,” he insisted. “Whether that’s P19 or whether it’s a Q3 performance.”
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