Russell pinpoints reason behind poor Williams pace

Mark Scott
Williams PA

George Russell has said the Williams FW43 is particularly sensitive when trying to follow other cars on race day after a point-less start to the season.

Unlike 2019, it is not all completely doom and gloom for Williams as they have been some signs of progress from the wooden spoon holders so far in the 2020 campaign.

They are making progress in qualifying having had no drivers into Q2 at the Austrian Grand Prix to Russell through to the next session at the Styrian Grand Prix and then both he and Nicholas Latifi made it out of Q1 in Hungary.

And whilst are Williams are not cut completely adrift off the back of the midfield, their race pace is still sadly lacking.

Russell says the problem emerges when the FW43 follows in the dirty air of another car.

“It’s a bit strange at the moment,” said Russell via

“We’ve had three races now: two very good qualifying, one good qualifying and three very poor races.

“Our car is very sensitive to following others and becomes very difficult to control when following others.

“Obviously on a Saturday [in qualifying] you’re not following others. So that’s the only understanding that we can take away from this.

“I feel like I just lose quite a lot downforce and the car becomes quite unpredictable.

“The car is very strong and feels really nice to drive in a qualy format. But just in the race, when following cars it isn’t and it takes confidence away from me.

“When I’m in clear air in the race our pace is strong or during a practice session in clear air with high fuel pace is strong.

“So all things are pointing towards or indicating it’s when we are following, our aero sensitivity is too high.”

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Russell has been reassured by Toto Wolff over his future at Mercedes after being overlooked for a 2021 seat with the Silver Arrows.

“George is very important for the long term but not for 2021,” Wolff told

“We are very happy with the line-up we have. Valtteri and Lewis perform well, they get on really well with each other, which is important for the dynamic within the team, and the engineers really appreciate their feedback.”

“But we are always looking at the long-term picture. George and us knew what we were getting ourselves into two years ago. Williams gave George the opportunity to come into Formula 1 and this is why the decision that Williams takes, we respect very much.

“George has a three-year contract with Williams that runs one more year and Claire (Williams) made very clear that she sees George as an important asset to the team, and from that side one must respect the contractual situation.

“On the other side, it doesn’t mean that if George would be free he would find a guaranteed slot at Mercedes. Valtteri and Lewis are our drivers today and loyalty is something that is very important to us.”

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