Williams likes to keep its past tidily separated from its present. Past glories - plus a few historic mis-steps - live in the Conference Centre, a short walk from the bustling hive of industry that is the Formula 1 facility. Once a factory itself, home to the touring car and sportscar programmes of the late 1990s, it now serves as a peaceful repose for engineering marvels, including a Le Mans 24 Hours winner as well as several championship-winning F1 cars.
The exhibit George Russell makes a beeline for, though, contains a spread of close-but-no-cigar machinery from the early 2000s, a period of hairy-chested V10-powered ground-pounders tamed only occasionally by traction control. Guided by Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher, the Williams-BMWs of the day came up short against the might of Michael Schumacher and Ferrari. While the racing was one-sided, several lap records still stand from 2004, the peak of the screaming V10 era. Like most drivers of his age, Russell regards Michael as indubitably the greatest of all time, but he cites Montoya among his favourites - so much so that when the current crop of drivers was invited to adopt special helmet designs to mark F1's 1000th world championship grand prix last year, Russell chose a design that was half his, half Montoya's.
And there's no problem with posing by one of Montoya's old cars for pictures, despite the BMW roundel on the nose. George may be Mercedes-affiliated but this Williams gig is his gig. He earned the seat not just through on-track performance - becoming Formula 2 champion in 2018 - but also by pushing every other button he could to secure it, even sending the team bigwigs a PowerPoint presentation to sell himself. That's perhaps a less bravura way of announcing himself to a team that traditionally favours shut-up-and-drive characters (Montoya, for instance, caught the eye of Sir Frank Williams by overtaking several rivals on the grass in an F3000 race at Hockenheim), but it's entirely appropriate for a driver who blends a cerebral approach off the track with a relentless, controlled aggression on it.