The Grove outfit made a statement by being the first car out on track at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for 2020 pre-season testing after missing the start of the opening week in 2019.
And all the signs were positive – Russell would end the two weeks with the seventh-fastest time, setting a 1:16.871 on the C5 tyres, just half a second slower than Charles Leclerc’s best effort on the same compound for Ferrari.
Russell isn’t particularly optimistic though for Williams’ chances in 2020 when the action does eventually get underway.
“I doubt we’re in a better position [compared to 2019],” he is quoted by Crash.net.
“I think realistically we are still the slowest car, and we’re not going to get carried away with ourselves, but we’ve definitely reduced the gap.
“Don’t expect to see us in Q2, Q3 sort of thing. We’ve definitely improved, but expectations are all under control.”
Russell also shrugged off the comparisons between Williams’ testing times and those of the other teams.
“I know how we have gained, but quantifying against the other teams is very difficult,” he explained.
“I think on overall lap time we were quicker than the Alfa/Alpha [in testing] on the timing board, but it doesn’t count for anything. We were ahead of the Red Bull and Mercedes at one point.
“As Williams, we want to progress much further up the grid, and their goals aren’t just to be fighting at the back.
“Over the next few years to be really making some big strides. Hopefully this is the turning point, but it’s a long road, and McLaren is the best example of that.
“How long it took them to recover, and look where they are now. It’s better to underpromise and overdeliver.”