English driver George Russell does not have to worry about losing his home: his team, Williams, has definitely left the F1 flashlight post and, although he has had his luck in putting both cars in the points in the last two races, he is building a good base to return to having results that are more in keeping with their history than those of the last four championships.
After all, it was Russell himself who said, before the start of the 2020 season, that I could “bet my house that we’re going to have a car ready on the first day of preseason testing and I’m sure and I’m very confident that we’ll be more competitive. We are on a very good trajectory at the moment.”
That would be the start of Russell’s second year in F1 and Williams. In the first, the team didn’t even have a car ready for the start of the pre-season and lived with flaws even in the manufacture of parts, which sometimes didn’t fit right. Several internal processes were revised, and the team consistently moved ahead of Haas in 2020, but the investment to go one step further was still needed, which was done after the team was sold to an American investment group earlier. one year.
The new owners started to form several technical partnerships, attracted sponsors and injected money into the team. At the same time, F1 rules were relatively stable, which was important in this transition period, and Russell’s performances on Saturdays jumped from the feat of moving into the second half of qualifying eventually to doing it more habitually and even putting on Williams in the top 10 on some occasions.
Returning to the points for the first time since a wet race in 2019 would be a matter of time (and for Russell to put aside the bad luck that had come with him) and it finally happened at the Hungarian GP, where the Englishman and his teammate Nicholas Latifi took advantage of the opportunity given by two accidents involving several cars in the first corner.
The next race, in Belgium, would offer another golden chance: in colder conditions, as also happened at the Emilia Romagna GP, the car seems to suffer less than the others, and, in the rain, mechanical grip also makes a difference. With that, Latifi managed to pass Q2 for the second time in his career (the first had been precisely at Imola) and Russell did the unthinkable: he put Williams in the front row of the Belgian GP.
As the race ended up not being green-flagged, with just three laps behind the Safety Car due to rain, this meant Russell was ranked second in the Belgian race, and Latifi was ninth. “It would be incredibly difficult to hold that second position, and it’s not always that you get a reward for a great rating. So that result does count,” said a smiling Russell after the race, in which his strategist expected him to be the 17th-most car. fast, which shows the reality of the team.
This does not mean that Williams has improved that much: the team continues to fight with Alfa Romeo to see who is the eighth force in the championship, although, with the points of the last races, it will hardly be surpassed by the rival in the table.
It is not something that matches the trajectory of one of the most winning teams in history, but it is a clear trend of evolution, which follows the year with the expansion of the parts purchase agreement with Mercedes – in addition to the power unit, they will have exchange and other components. On the other hand, the team is likely to lose Russell precisely to the German team.
However, in the remaining ten races of the season, Williams will try to take advantage of every opportunity that arises. Also because, as all teams are already very focused on 2022, any shortcomings that the team may still have in terms of car development throughout the year will not be an important factor.
The next chance to score may be this weekend, in Zandvoort, Netherlands.