Russell ‘just not feeling’ Williams FW43B at Italian GP

Jamie Woodhouse
George Russell, Williams, in action at Monza. Italy, September 2021.

George Russell competing at Monza for Williams on Friday at the Italian Grand Prix. September 2021.

George Russell admitted that he is not yet “feeling” the Williams FW43B following qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix.

The Mercedes power unit was unable to give Williams much of a boost as Russell escaped Q1 only thanks to Yuki Tsunoda seeing his fastest time deleted for track limits.

And there would be no Q2 miracle, with Russell set to start sprint qualifying at Monza from P15.

It is a position though which Russell was expecting, with the Briton saying his team “turned the car upside down” following a difficult FP1, though he still is not clicking with the car beneath him.

Asked by reporters how qualifying went, Russell responded: “To be honest really tricky, I think on the sprint race weekend if you hit the ground running, you are in a really great position.

“As we experienced at Silverstone you can just go out in qualy and build off that, but we were nowhere in FP1, we turned the car upside down for qualifying.

“And I think we are in a reasonable position for tomorrow, but we just are not really feeling it.

“We brought this Monza skinny rear wing to shed the drag, but just struggling to really tune it up, so I hope we are in a better position for the race tomorrow.”

Although the cars are now under parc ferme conditions, Russell hopes the minor changes which can be made will lead to an improvement, with one more hour of practice to go before sprint qualifying.

“I hope it will allow us to understand a bit more what we need,” said Russell of the remaining practice time.

“The only thing you can change is the front wing flap, which is still really important on a track like this when you have got so little downforce.

“But there are still a lot of fast corners, so fingers crossed that will maybe help us, but I think we are not quite as competitive as we would have hoped.”

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Nicholas Latifi will line up P16 for sprint qualifying as Williams occupy the eighth row, and he too spoke of a dissatisfaction with the car during FP1, though the situation improved come Q1.

“Obviously very frustrated with how close the margin was in the end [to making Q2],” he said.

“We really didn’t have a good feeling with the car in FP1, which when you only have one practice is far from ideal, especially at this track.

“But I think we made some really good changes in the short time we had, and had a much better feeling, but ultimately at this track it’s just a track that doesn’t suit the kind of package we have.

“We saw that last year, we saw that in FP1 as well, so frustrated to miss out a little bit.”

However, with two races to come this weekend at a track where overtaking is very much possible, Latifi said that qualifying took a back seat in Williams’ gameplan, and so the Canadian hopes to see an improvement in his fortunes from here.

“We biased our decisions for today based off of trying to be more competitive in the race,” Latifi explained.

“So I definitely think we compromised some things with the pace today to hopefully be in a better position tomorrow.

“It’s not guaranteed but at a track where overtaking is possible, and where we have two races, the qualifying is definitely less important.

“When it’s the difference between starting P16, P15 or P14, with the sprint race for us it probably isn’t going to make much of a difference, but obviously I would have liked to be in Q2.”