George Russell says Williams’ FW43B felt “joyous to drive” in Spain owing to relatively smooth conditions, as the team fought in the lower midfield.
Williams had endured a fraught race seven days previously in Portugal, amid gusty weather, prompting Russell to label the race “an incredible struggle.”
Williams conceded earlier in the year that the design traits of its FW43B meant it was susceptible to changeable conditions and the squad’s performance level has fluctuated through the season.
Russell qualified 15th in Spain but ran a slightly off-set two-stop strategy, pitting earlier on account of the Safety Car period caused by Yuki Tsunoda’s stoppage, and challenged for points.
The Briton chased Fernando Alonso for 11th before slipping down the order in the closing laps, coming home 14th, but was buoyed by the showing.
“I mean it’s incredibly tricky, I think we did a really great job pitting under the safety car at the beginning, effectively almost doing a one-stop,” he said.
“For sure, if I had just managed to clear Alonso then who knows [what would have happened] but I think having Alonso ahead of me helped keep those faster cars behind because I had the DRS, they have half a second of car pace and probably one-second tyre pace.
“But I’m really pleased that we rolled the dice and found ourselves in the position.
“The car felt the best it has ever felt, to be honest, in a race probably the best I can ever remember. That just makes it so joyous to drive compared to normal, most of which I put down to a calm day.”
Russell expanded on the reasoning for Williams being able to contend for the points-paying positions just a week after it plummeted out of the reckoning.
“The wind was less than 10 km/h, there was minimal gusts which just made the car consistent to drive,” he said.
“When it’s consistent, as a driver you can drive around it and I think that’s something that Nicholas [Latifi] and I struggled with, especially at Portimao, that was really exposed and it was incredibly inconsistent.
“As a driver, you lose all the confidence, then it has a negative effect on the tyres and then you’re just in this downward spiral.
“Whereas on days like [Sunday], the car is nice and consistent. As a driver you can really push it to its limit, you can manage the car as you wish, manage the tyres as you wish and really optimise everything.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure a lot of people felt their car felt better. But I think we take a bigger jump in both directions when these conditions are favourable or not.”