Russell: F1 performance secondary to survival at old Williams

George Russell says performance was “secondary” during the Williams family’s final years owning its Formula 1 team while it fought to keep it afloat, something Dorilton Capital’s investment has reversed.

Russell: F1 performance secondary to survival at old Williams

The Williams family exited F1 after last year’s Italian Grand Prix, two weeks after the US private investment firm bought the team, which followed Williams taking action to improve its finances and reviewing the possibility of a full or partial sale.

Williams had slumped to the back of the grid in 2018 and endured a second successive disastrous year in 2019 – although it did score a point that season, despite running packages last year and in 2021 so far closer to the front of field pace-wise.

A lack of a fast turnaround reflects the difficulty of reversing a performance slide in modern F1, and although Williams has begun to recover form – it currently has the championship’s ninth-fastest car after being firmly last in 2018 and 2019, and only just ending up ahead of Haas last year – Dorilton’s arrival had little impact on the team’s 2021 challenger because it came so late last season.

When asked if 2021’s FW43B – which also features many parts from 2020’s FW43 given this season’s carryover design requirement – was always going to be tough to develop further towards the front of the grid given the challenging circumstances of the current campaign, Russell explained how Williams’ previous financial uncertainty was also a factor in its past and present performance.

“Obviously, 2019 was an incredibly difficult season,” Russell told Motorsport.com.

“And then with the events of what unfolded throughout 2020, with the pandemic and the financial situation of the team becoming incredibly difficult, we recognised that it would be so tough to develop, improve.

“We do now have new owners. Unfortunately, for us it probably came slightly too late to actually make a proper difference for 2021.

“You can't just suddenly inject a load of cash and expect results because your baseline is so far away.

Read Also:

George Russell, Williams FW43B

George Russell, Williams FW43B

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

“And it would not have been wise for them to have done that because they're not looking to rush, they're looking to do things right, which is absolutely the right way.

“They're here for the long haul. They've got a very strong, mid-to-long-term target.

“And now with the arrival of Jost [Capito, now Williams’ team principal] and technical director in FX [Demaison], the team is now finally starting to have some real stability, which will allow all of the other workers to fully focus on their own roles under the direction of the guys at the top.

“Which we didn't really have for so long.

“As I've said before, when Claire [Williams, former deputy team principal] and Mike [O’Driscoll, former team CEO] were here, their main objective was to keep the team alive, which is absolutely the right objective, but performance was a secondary target.

“Whereas, now, performance is everything.

“Potentially a lot of us would not have been here today, had it not been for the great efforts of Claire and Mike to keep the team alive during the pandemic.

“But now, things are stable, and the future looks bright for the team.”

Russell added that “it fills me with a lot of pride to be part of this amazing history” at Williams, which celebrated its 750th F1 race start at the recent Monaco GP.

shares
comments

Related video

The conflicts at the heart of F1's TV graphics push

Previous article

The conflicts at the heart of F1's TV graphics push

Next article

The F1 tyre tricks that new clampdown will stamp out

The F1 tyre tricks that new clampdown will stamp out
Load comments
Why long-run times should please Red Bull in Austin F1 battle Prime

Why long-run times should please Red Bull in Austin F1 battle

Mercedes has been on a roll of late in the ultra-tight fight to win the 2021 Formula 1 world championship. It started off well in practice at Austin for this weekend’s US Grand Prix, but Red Bull got closer as Friday unfolded and even seemed to find an edge in one critical area of what seems set to be set to be another close contest.

The six critical factors that could hand F1 2021 glory to Hamilton or Verstappen Prime

The six critical factors that could hand F1 2021 glory to Hamilton or Verstappen

The 2021 Formula 1 title battle is finely poised with six races remaining, as just six points separate championship leader Max Verstappen from seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton. In such a closely-fought season, the outcome could hinge on several small factors playing the way of Red Bull or Mercedes

Can Whitmarsh appointment help Aston succeed where its F1 rivals failed? Prime

Can Whitmarsh appointment help Aston succeed where its F1 rivals failed?

Aston Martin owner Lawrence Stroll is determined to make the group a billion-dollar business. MARK GALLAGHER analyses his latest play – bringing former McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh into the fold

Remembering Switzerland’s first F1 winner Prime

Remembering Switzerland’s first F1 winner

Stepping up to F1 in 1962, Jo Siffert shone with Rob Walker Racing Team and BRM before his career was abruptly ended in a fatal crash at Brands Hatch in 1971. Kevin Turner looks back at the life of Switzerland's first F1 winner on the 50th anniversary of his death

Formula 1
Oct 21, 2021
What Verstappen is risking with his current stance on 2021 F1 world title defeat Prime

What Verstappen is risking with his current stance on 2021 F1 world title defeat

OPINION: Max Verstappen is back in the lead of the 2021 Formula 1 drivers’ championship, with the season’s final flyaway events set to get underway in the USA this weekend. But a defensive stance he’s recently adopted could have a lasting impact for the Red Bull driver when it comes to his chances of defeating Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes

Formula 1
Oct 21, 2021
The hidden Ferrari struggle that Sainz’s recent charge put to rest Prime

The hidden Ferrari struggle that Sainz’s recent charge put to rest

Despite appearing to adjust to life as a Ferrari driver with relative ease, it was far from straightforward under the surface for Carlos Sainz. But, having made breakthroughs in rather different routes at the Russian and Turkish races, he’s now targeting even greater feats for the rest of the Formula 1 season

Formula 1
Oct 20, 2021
The final throes of Brazil's fleetingly successful F1 team Prime

The final throes of Brazil's fleetingly successful F1 team

Emerson Fittipaldi is better remembered for his Formula 1 world championships and Indianapolis 500 successes than for the spell running his eponymous F1 team. Despite a hugely talented roll call of staff, it was a period of internal strife, limited funding and few results - as remembered by Tim Wright.

Formula 1
Oct 18, 2021
Why McLaren's expanding agenda will benefit its F1 resurgence Prime

Why McLaren's expanding agenda will benefit its F1 resurgence

In the 1960s and 1970s, McLaren juggled works entries in F1, sportscars and the Indy 500 while building cars for F3 and F2. Now it’s returning to its roots, expanding into IndyCars and Extreme E while continuing its F1 renaissance. There’s talk of Formula E and WEC entries too. But is this all too much, too soon? Stuart Codling talks to the man in charge.

Formula 1
Oct 17, 2021