Williams rookie George Russell believes the Australian Grand Prix was merely an extended test session for the team.
The Mercedes junior had the beating of team-mate Robert Kubica in qualifying and on race day, but Russell believes there are no bragging rights in fighting at the back, and that the team must focus on finding much-needed pace.
“Personally, I can take a bit of satisfaction from this weekend. I think [Saturday] was a really great day for me. I left the circuit with my head held high. [In the race] we knew what we were in for,” he told reporters in Melbourne.
“It wasn’t a fair fight with Robert [Kubica] as he had a bit of damage at the start. For both of us, it was just bring the car home and learn as much as we can.
“We’ve just got to treat these as test sessions because we’re so far behind, and we’ve just got to understand it and almost try things to see what works and see what doesn’t, because for now it doesn’t really make much sense to try and optimise everything when we are that far off the pace.”
Knowing that he wouldn’t be fighting for points, Russell said his priority was to put in a solid debut showing, a goal which he achieved.
“First time at Albert Park, I didn’t throw the car in the wall or anything,” he explained.
“I was ahead of my team mate in every session bar one. From a personal perspective I’m happy, but… I’m a fighter, I’m a winner, and I’m not interested in just battling my team mate for the back of the grid.
“I’d probably say qualifying was the best moment. The car wasn’t feeling terrible to drive and it was so enjoyable to put the car on the limit around a track like this.
“Such a thrill driving between these walls, bumpy track, when you hook something together there’s a huge amount of satisfaction and that’s really how I felt in qualifying.
“But overall, I think I can be proud and pleased with myself as we went into this weekend knowing what we’d expect, and I achieved pretty much all of my goals.”