Russell: F1 performance secondary to Williams' survival under old ownership

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 Williams' survival under old ownership

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 Autosport.

“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.

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

How F1 is cultivating the festival feel for fans at races
Previous article

How F1 is cultivating the festival feel for fans at races

Next article

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

The conflicts at the heart of F1's TV graphics push
The pioneering F1 car that preceded Lotus’s terminal decline Plus

The pioneering F1 car that preceded Lotus’s terminal decline

In the hands of Ayrton Senna the actively suspended 99T would be the last F1 race-winning Lotus but, as STUART CODLING reveals, it was a complicated machine that caused more problems than it solved

Formula 1
Feb 5, 2023
How Tyrrell became a racing Rubik’s cube as it faded out of F1 Plus

How Tyrrell became a racing Rubik’s cube as it faded out of F1

Formula 1’s transformation into a global sport meant the gradual extinction for a small team determined to stay true to its low-budget roots. But Tyrrell would eventually be reborn as a world-beating outfit again, explains MAURICE HAMILTON, albeit in different colours…

Formula 1
Feb 4, 2023
Assessing Hamilton's remarkable decade as a Mercedes F1 driver Plus

Assessing Hamilton's remarkable decade as a Mercedes F1 driver

Many doubted Lewis Hamilton’s move from McLaren to Mercedes for the 2013 Formula 1 season. But the journey he’s been on since has taken the Briton to new heights - and to a further six world championship titles

Formula 1
Feb 2, 2023
Why new look Haas is a litmus test for Formula 1’s new era Plus

Why new look Haas is a litmus test for Formula 1’s new era

OPINION: With teams outside the top three having struggled in Formula 1 in recent seasons, the rules changes introduced in 2022 should have more of an impact this season. How well Haas does, as the poster child for the kind of team that F1 wanted to be able to challenge at the front, is crucial

Formula 1
Feb 2, 2023
The Mercedes F1 pressure changes under 10 years of Toto Wolff Plus

The Mercedes F1 pressure changes under 10 years of Toto Wolff

OPINION: Although the central building blocks for Mercedes’ recent, long-lasting Formula 1 success were installed before he joined the team, Toto Wolff has been instrumental in ensuring it maximised its finally-realised potential after years of underachievement. The 10-year anniversary of Wolff joining Mercedes marks the perfect time to assess his work

Formula 1
Feb 1, 2023
The all-French F1 partnership that Ocon and Gasly hope to emulate Plus

The all-French F1 partnership that Ocon and Gasly hope to emulate

Alpine’s signing of Pierre Gasly alongside Esteban Ocon revives memories of a famous all-French line-up, albeit in the red of Ferrari, for BEN EDWARDS. Can the former AlphaTauri man's arrival help the French team on its path back to winning ways in a tribute act to the Prancing Horse's title-winning 1983?

Formula 1
Jan 31, 2023
How do the best races of F1 2022 stack up to 2021? Plus

How do the best races of F1 2022 stack up to 2021?

OPINION: A system to score all the grands prix from the past two seasons produces some interesting results and sets a standard that 2023 should surely exceed

Formula 1
Jan 31, 2023
Who were the fastest drivers in F1 2022? Plus

Who were the fastest drivers in F1 2022?

Who was the fastest driver in 2022? Everyone has an opinion, but what does the stopwatch say? Obviously, differing car performance has an effect on ultimate laptime – but it’s the relative speed of each car/driver package that’s fascinating and enlightening says ALEX KALINAUCKAS

Formula 1
Jan 30, 2023