George Russell says Williams are still “a number of tenths” slower than the others in qualifying trim, but is hopeful for their race pace.
After spending the 2019 campaign trailing at the back of the pack, Russell was able to end FP2 ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix in P18 with Kimi Raikkonen and team-mate Nicholas Latifi behind.
But, he still feels Williams aren’t on a par with their rivals on the low-fuel runs, but thinks that could change come race day.
“Didn’t quite rule the world today, it was very fun to get behind the wheel, the body took a while to get used to G-force again and the understanding of how it feels to go through a corner at 150mph,” he told the F1 website.
“It was a productive day, our low-fuel pace isn’t as good as out high-fuel pace.
“We seem relatively competitive in higher fuel. Low-fuel I was pleased with my lap but we’re still a good couple of tenths behind.
“But definitely a big improvement on last year I think at this stage.
“I don’t want to get our hopes up, I think at the end of the day we’re still the slowest car on the grid, but heading in the right direction.
“Our high-fuel pace we were level with I think Raikkonen, Kevin Magnussen and Pierre Gasly potentially.
“But as we know in Formula 1 it’s mainly about how you qualify as for how your weekend goes.”
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Asked if he thought he could get the FW43 into Q2 on Saturday, Russell replied: “Realistically, probably not.
“I was pretty pleased with the car on low-fuel and my lap, but we’re still a number of tenths behind this Q2 position.
“Maybe we’ll focus more towards the race because we know the car suits the race better than it does qualy.
“So that’s maybe what we should focus on more because we know even if we fully optimise qualy we won’t really be there.
“I think we can definitely hold on [to the back of the pack] at the start and see where that goes really.
“This is our first showing of everyone’s real pace really.”
The weekend ➡️
See you all tomorrow ?#AustrianGP ?? | #WeAreWilliams ? pic.twitter.com/Eqs3Cn6XhC
— WILLIAMS RACING (@WilliamsRacing) July 3, 2020
Russell said it wasn’t until the end of the day where he started to feel like he was “back in the groove”, while he also noticed that some of the drivers had stole the neck exercise he invented during the lockdown.
“It was tough finding ways to keep the neck strong,” he said.
“I invented something called the ‘mummy plank’ which I’ve actually seen a few drivers steal since.
“I wouldn’t say I struggled physically, but I felt it, especially the opening laps of FP1. When you go through the corners that quick and you haven’t done it for three or four months, your body forgets that feeling.
“But by the end of the day I felt back in the groove.”
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