George Russell believes he could extract more pace from his Williams car driving at 98% rather than 100%.
Despite an impressive start to 2019 for the Brit where has regularly had the beating of team-mate Robert Kubica, Russell thinks he can do better – an unusual way to achieve this being to not drive at the limit to reduce the FW42’s unpredictability.
“I’m happy in some aspects,” he told Motorsport.com.
“There’s definitely room to improve from my side. Certainly I haven’t managed to optimise qualifying in the last two races.
“I think I still need to understand and respect the limitations of the car. Sometimes you would go quicker driving at 98% than at 100%.
“It’s a learning process to understand the car and, unfortunately, we can’t just go out and get the maximum from it because we’re not 100% sure what the car is going to do from corner to corner.”
Williams are well adrift of the midfield this season, with inconsistent handling cited as the biggest drawback, but Russell hopes that updates over the next few races will go some way to address the issue.
“The upgrades in terms of overall downforce are normal, so it’s not like we have something special,” he explained. “But we’re hoping that it gives us something more driveable.
“I think there’s more to gain through having a car that’s driveable and consistent through a corner, that will help us gain a lot of lap time.
“At the moment Robert and I have a big issue with how the car is reacting on the entry and mid compared with the exit. It’s very different in each stage, which is making it tough to drive.”
Russell enjoyed an impressive showing in Baku last season whilst competing in the Formula 2 Championship.
The Baku City Circuit is Formula 1’s next destination, and though Russell doesn’t expect the planned upgrades to make a huge difference, he does hope it will lay the foundations for a steady improvement.
“I’m really looking forward to Baku because I had a great weekend there last year in Formula 2, it was probably my strongest race of the year. We should probably have won both races, and anyway I won the second one from P12 on the grid,” he reminisced.
“We have some small changes coming and hopefully, if they work as expected, it could be positive – but we’re not 100% sure.
“I’m hoping, because we have some very poor characteristics, that if we improve that, the lap time gains will be larger. But at the moment there’s nothing really suggesting that will be the case.”