What a difference a year makes. George Russell felt a lot more confident driving the Williams car on Wednesday compared to this time 12 months ago.
Russell had the distinction of being the first driver to head out of the pit lane at the Circuit de Catalunya on the first day of pre-season testing – a stark contrast to 2019 when Williams missed the first two-and-a-half days due to the FW42 not being ready in time.
Russell would complete just 40 laps over the course of the first four days of winter testing in 2019 with a best time of 1:20.997s.
Fast forward to the end of the first morning session of 2020 and Russell had 73 laps under his belt with a best time of 1:18.168s – a time which was also quicker than his Spanish Grand Prix qualifying time in 2019.
“Overall it’s been a very promising morning,” Russell told reporters in Barcelona.
“Definitely the general handling of the car is much better.
“From the first lap today I had confidence to push the car to the limit, whereas last year it wasn’t a nice feeling in the early laps and it was quite scary to drive in the opening laps.
“But a nice car to drive isn’t always fast, we just need to see if we’ve been able to smash enough downforce on the car to see if we can challenge those around.”
Having been at the centre of Williams’ 2019 struggles, Russell was able to compare the atmosphere between now and then as Williams were able to start on an even footing along with everyone else this year.
“Everybody was a bit lost at this time last year,” he added.
“We’re definitely excited for the new season. It was a character building year last year, but I’m confident we can go racing this year and have a bit more fun. That’s what we’re all looking for.”