George Russell says Williams should be buoyed by its recent progress in Formula 1, believing it can fight in the midfield on merit, in the aftermath of his Imola error.
Russell qualified in 13th position and moved into the top 10 after Max Verstappen’s tyre failure, but then squandered the opportunity when he crashed under the Safety Car.
A distraught Russell labelled it the “biggest mistake” of his career and apologised to Williams for the error.
But the display came amid an improved run of form in race trim for Russell and Williams.
Russell battled Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen at the Nurburgring, before being punted out by the Finn, and at Portimao classified 14th, in front of Antonio Giovinazzi and both Haas drivers.
“Ultimately I think we’ve got to take away some positives from this and go to the next race with a positive frame of mind as we need to fight to get ourselves back in this position again, and I’m confident we can,” Russell said.
“We’ve made some breakthroughs with the set-up and understanding of the car in the last few weekends.
“I think we’re in a good position to be on the front foot of Alfa Romeo and Haas and definitely picking up places when people don’t optimise their sessions as we saw with Sebastian and Racing Point.”
Russell’s exit marked the second time this year that he has lost a potential top 10 result during the closing stages of a grand prix.
Russell held ninth at Mugello but slipped back two spots at the final standing restart.
“I mean obviously it’d be great to score some points at some point but ultimately it’s not something that’s weighing on my shoulders that we haven’t scored one yet,” he said.
“We go to every weekend trying to get the best result possible, there’s been a couple of moments that we’ve missed out on these opportunities when the opportunity’s been there, obviously that’s frustrating.
“But as a racing driver you look at the bigger picture and as a race team we want to be on these positions on merit, as we were [at Imola], and this is what we come racing for.
“Okay you had the Verstappen and [Pierre] Gasly retirement, two guys in the top 10, but we were absolutely fighting on merit in P12 for the majority of the race, and that’s something we have to be proud and pleased for, with the progress we made from last year.
“Our car was not even close to [us] being 18th [in 2019] and now we’ve had a weekend where on merit we qualified 13th and were racing just outside the points so that is the bigger picture.
“I’m sure when we do get the opportunity to be scoring week in week out we’ll look back on these moments and think they were some tough years but they made us stronger, made me a stronger driver, made the team stronger.
“Potentially in five years’ time I can look back on these moments and say these turned me into a better driver all round.”