George Russell believes Williams is well-placed to make improvements in 2021 but accepts Ferrari’s anticipated engine gains will assist its direct Formula 1 rivals.
Ferrari struggled for straight-line speed in 2020, condemning the factory team to its worst season in 40 years, while also limiting the performances of customers Alfa Romeo and Haas.
Alfa Romeo and Haas finished eighth and ninth in the standings, with eight and three points respectively, classifying in front of only Williams.
But Williams, having been cut adrift of the pack in 2019, was in the mix with Alfa Romeo and Haas, particularly in qualifying, with Russell making Q2 at over half of the grands prix.
Ferrari is set to introduce a new power unit this year and Russell is wary of the positive impact it will likely have on Williams’ direct opponents.
“As we saw last year, the points separating the teams at the back of the grid were very small numbers,” Russell explained at the launch of Williams’ FW43B.
“You only need one big weekend and that can catapult you from last to eighth in the Constructors’ – which from a team side is huge and obviously from my side it’s huge.
“Haas and Alfa Romeo were our two rivals last year, it’s no secret that the Ferrari engine will be much stronger this year which puts us slightly on the back foot.
“But I think the guys have done a great job over the winter and I think as a minimum we want to be in the same position as we were last year, taking into consideration the improvements of the Ferrari engine.”
Russell has yet to score a point in Williams colours and pointed to grasping chances as one area to work on for 2021.
“What’s happened over the last two years, I think on the personal side I’ve got some good foundations,” he commented.
“But I still feel like I’ve got a lot I need to work on and improve if I want to be at the top of my game and ultimately one day be fighting for victories and championships – I still need to improve on some of the minor details. And probably capitalising on some of the opportunities.”