Russell: Portimao could ‘mix up’ the order

Jamie Woodhouse

George Russell working to become a more rounded driver on race days.

Williams’ George Russell believes the Portuguese Grand Prix could spring a few surprises by mixing up the order.

It will be the first Portuguese Grand Prix since 1996, but the Algarve International Circuit in Portimao will now take over duties of hosting the event from Estoril.

The teams go there with no data to rely on, and Russell thinks this has the potential to upset the order in Formula 1.

“I am really looking forward to Portugal as it is a new circuit on this year’s calendar,” he told the Williams website.

“It is a really great track and I haven’t raced there since 2015. It is very undulating with a lot of character, which is what all drivers love. It will be a challenge for all of the teams with no previous data to rely on, which will hopefully mix things up.”

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After bad weather caused FP1 and FP2 to be cancelled at the last round, that being the Eifel Grand Prix at the Nurburgring, Williams‘ head of vehicle performance Dave Robson says the team has a lot of catching up to do on another unfamiliar venue.

The Pirelli 2021 tyre test which will take place during FP2 also further restricts the time teams have to get up to speed in Portimao.

“We are looking forward to the challenge of another new circuit, having enjoyed the experience in Mugello and the Nürburgring,” he said.

“Losing the Friday running in Germany has left us with a lot of work to get through this weekend, and in addition to our own testing, we will complete some tyre testing for Pirelli during the opening 30 minutes of FP2.

“Pirelli have brought their hardest tyre compounds to this event and have also brought more Hard tyres than usual. Depending on the nature of the asphalt and the temperature we find, this may prove to be quite conservative. However, as it is the same for all teams, then it is something that we will need to embrace and make the most of.

“The tyre grip will dictate the downforce level that teams choose to run and one of our main objectives on Friday will be to understand the trades of different rear wing levels. We have some new aerodynamic test parts this weekend and the drivers will share the programme to understand if the new components are behaving as expected.

“We have a busy few days ahead of us and are looking forward to a new venue, some warm sunshine and a productive weekend.”

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