It has been a dismal couple of years for Williams and while the team left Formula 1’s Austrian Grand Prix empty-handed it was buoyed by its improved display.
Williams regressed through 2018 as it slumped to the rear of the Constructors’ standings, a position it replicated last year, with its recalcitrant car at times a second off the pack.
Its sole point came in Germany, where Robert Kubica finished 12th, before moving into the top 10 post-race after penalties for Alfa Romeo’s drivers.
Pre-season testing indicated that Williams was likely to be significantly closer to the rest of the pack and such aspirations were demonstrated in Austria.
George Russell came within a tenth of ending Williams’ 23-race Q2 absence and set a lap faster than both Alfa Romeo drivers, ensuring the FW43 was not the slowest car across one lap.
In race trim Russell remained within sight of the midfield train and held 13th position when he suffered a loss of fuel pressure, while rookie team-mate Nicholas Latifi avoided the drama to take 11th.
“It has been an incredibly difficult, painful, every adjective you could think of, two years for our team, said Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams.
“To watch the team go through that, to keep turning up, rolling their sleeves up, has been an incredible challenge for everyone.
“To come here, and to see us racing again, I can’t tell you how genuinely a little bit emotional it feels to see us racing going again.
“I’m really excited about the rest of the year and can continue how we started.
“George’s lap times were matching the guys in the top 10 and that was fantastic to see.
“He could have got in the points, he could have got in the top 10, and a pretty good spot in the top 10 as well.
“I think everyone at Williams should feel incredibly proud and this is just race one of many that we have left to go this year.”