Russell says new Williams feels "much better" than 2019 car
George Russell says the new Williams FW43 Formula 1 car feels much better to drive than the 2019 car after a trouble-free opening session of pre-season testing.
After missing the first two-and-a-half days of winter testing in 2019 due to delays with the car build, Russell and Williams were first out of the pitlane in Barcelona on Wednesday.
Russell managed to complete 73 laps through the morning session - 33 more than he did in the entire opening test last year - and finished the morning sixth-fastest.
The Briton's best lap was half a second quicker than his qualifying time at last year's Spanish Grand Prix and just three hundredths of a second shy of his fastest 2019 testing time.
"I'd say definitely the general handling of the car is much better. From lap one today, I had confidence to push the car to the limit, whereas last year, it wasn't a nice feeling in the early laps," Russell said.
"It was quite scary to drive actually last year in the opening laps, trying to build that confidence. Already that's better, but not always a nice car to drive is a fast car. So it's a laptime-based sport, and it doesn't matter how you get around the lap, as long as it's fast, that's what counts.
"It's been improved in that area, now we just need to see if we have managed to put more downforce onto the car to compete with the guys around me."
Williams's disastrous start to pre-season testing in 2019 set the tone for a difficult season spent at the back of the field, scoring just one point as it finished last in the constructors' championship.
Russell joked the team was already faster than at this point last year given the car was "still in bits", but acknowledged it was a big boost for the team to start with no issues.
"[It's] massively important. Last year was far from ideal, the team have done a really great job to achieve that," Russell said.
"The build quality of the car is a much better standard than last year. Things fit properly, the car looks better from the design perspective, so I think overall it has been a very positive morning.
"Everybody was a bit lost last year because they didn't know what to do as there was no car here. We're definitely excited for the new season. It was a character building year last year. I'm confident we can go racing this year and have a bit more fun than we did last year. That's what we're all looking for."
Asked if the team had planned to be the first car out of the pitlane in testing, Russell replied: "We had an intense morning planned, and to get everything in, it was important to get out from the beginning.
"But also off the back of last year, I guess it was psychologically important for all of us, and for everybody who has worked day and night back at the factory, to see their car go out first.
"So now it's just a relief for all, and we can get cracking on this test programme."
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