William’s head of vehicle performance has admitted that the team missed George Russell’s guidance at the Sakhir Grand Prix.
The British team didn’t have Russell in their ranks for the second race as Bahrain as Mercedes called the Brit up to stand in for Lewis Hamilton.
He was replaced by reserve driver Jack Aitken for race weekend, who generally impressed, going less than a tenth slower than Nicholas Latifi in qualifying.
Nevertheless, Dave Robson says that the British team missed Russell, and not just for his driving, for also for his input in terms of tyres and setup.
“There’s no doubt we missed George, not just because of his pace but his guidance on the car and the tyres particularly,” he told Autosport.
“So, yeah, not easy. The value of experience is enormous and for sure it’s been a little bit harder than it could have been. But, I think, to be fair [to Latifi and Aitken], the two of them have done a good job.”
One potential benefit of Russell driving the best car on the grid is that he could bring valuable feedback and insight of the W11 back to Williams, but Robson doubts it would be particularly useful.
“I guess we’ll find out over the next couple of weeks when we talk to him again, but there’s nothing that he’s going to be able to say that will suddenly turn our car into theirs,” he added.
“There’ll be quite a limit on what’s directly relevant. There’s a limit to what they’ll tell him, and a limit to what would be reasonable for him to then pass on to us. But in any case, I think a lot of the specifics are not that relevant. That car is so different to ours clearly that it won’t be that relevant.
“But it’ll be interesting. He will have gained some valuable experience on how they prepare their tyres, how they do race starts. And whilst it may not be directly relevant, he should at least be able to pick up some of the ideas that they use to work that out.
“At the very least, it’s a different experience for him, which is good, and hopefully the experience of racing at the sharp end will help him in his confidence and his understanding of what racing in F1 is about at the moment.”