Russell ‘excited’ to kick off campaign at rewarding venue

Past results may not be an indication of future performance, but Williams charger George Russell is excited to kick off his season in Austria where the young Briton has done well in the past.

Williams enters the 2020 campaign with a new color scheme on its FW43 after parting ways with title sponsor ROKiT. But the Grove-based outfit is also seeking an investor or buyer to ensure its future on the grid beyond this year.

The combination of those two facts outlines an interesting context for F1’s third most successful team behind Ferrari and McLaren.

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But the team’s pre-season form augurs for a reasonably good start to its season, and Russell is ready to give it his all from the outset.

“I’m really excited to get back racing and at a circuit that I enjoy driving and have gone well at in the past,” said the 22-year-old.

“It was probably one of my best races in Formula 1 last year so I’m really looking forward to it.

“We’ve done a lot of virtual racing recently so it will be great to now race in reality and provide some entertainment for the fans that will be supporting us from home.

“From a performance perspective, I don’t want to pre-empt how we will get on as we’ve only really had winter testing. Regardless though, I will be going out there to give it my everything.”

Despite the improvement displayed by Williams in Barcelona last winter, senior race engineer Dave Robson insists the team will need extract the mots from its package and from every opportunity to haul itself up the grid.

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“When we last ran the car in Barcelona, we were encouraged by the improvements made since the end of 2019, however, we are under no illusion that we need to keep working hard and maximise every opportunity we can find to get us further up the grid,” said Robson.

“We are also aware that teams will have taken the opportunity to improve their cars since February; more than ever, predicting the pace of the opposition is difficult and futile.

“Our initial efforts will be on making the most of our car, ensuring that it is reliable and raceable, and on learning for the intense series of races that lie ahead of us.

“Both George and Nicholas [Latifi] are familiar with the circuit and this will allow us to concentrate on the engineering during running on Friday.

“We are pleased and thankful that we are able to return to doing what we love, however, everyone at Williams, and across Formula One, remembers those who have suffered, and those who continue to suffer, as a result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic,” added the British engineer.

“We hope that the beginning of the 2020 F1 season will offer a small sense of a return to normality and provide some exciting new entertainment as the world slowly awakens from a prolonged and difficult period.

“We are facing a new future, but we will face it fairly, respectfully, cooperatively and in a fully inclusive way.”

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