George Russell believes Williams has stronger race pace than was shown at Formula 1’s season-opener, and wants to compete for the top 10 positions on merit, rather than hope for an attrition-filled grand prix to score.
Williams came close to taking a point at the Austrian Grand Prix through the high rate of issues and setbacks, with debutant Nicholas Latifi finishing as the final of the 11 classified runners.
Russell had been in the mix for the lower reaches of the top 10 until he suffered an engine-related problem, which has required new components for his FW43 at this weekend’s Styrian Grand Prix.
Williams has not scored a top 10 finish on merit since the 2018 Italian Grand Prix, with its sole point of 2019 coming when Robert Kubica was promoted from 12th to 10th post-race in Germany after penalties for rivals Alfa Romeo.
“[Sebastian] Vettel was struggling for whatever reason, he struggled to overtake Kimi [Raikkonen], then Kimi [Raikkonen] overtook me, Sebastian was stuck behind me for a number of laps and he obviously went on to finish 10th,” said Russell on last Sunday’s race.
“So points were definitely there for the taking but I have greater aspirations, the team has greater aspirations than just scoring, or inheriting a point on one of these crazy races.
“As nice as it would have been [to score points] we want to be earning these points fair and square.”
Russell also admitted that Williams expected its race pace to be relatively stronger than its qualifying speed and was surprised to find it was not the case in Austria.
“Definitely Saturday was a really positive day, I think we did a very good job, I wouldn’t like to think it was our maximum potential but definitely things were running very smoothly,” he said.
“Sunday more difficult, which was interesting, because in pre-season testing and on Friday our race pace looked stronger than qualifying pace, so we still need to understand why that is.
“We’ve got a few little ideas, as with everyone we were had some cooling issues, with the brakes and the engine, it was a hot day, we were stuck in traffic.
“Hopefully we can rectify that this weekend and turn our qualifying pace and bring even more into the race.”