George Russell says a trouble-free run for Williams in the opening days of the 2020 F1 pre-season test is psychologically important for the team.

The 2​019 F1 pre-season testing at Barcelona got underway last year with one major team absent on-track: Williams. They were extremely far behind schedule, and therefore missed the first two days of testing as they then lagged all-season long.

However, 2020 saw a drastically different start to the year for Williams as they adopted a different philosophy for the new car, where they focused on getting things right where they lacked instead of changing the whole machine around in the given time.

Russell was the first to hit the track before Nicholas Latifi took over and the Brit instantly beat his qualifying time from last year. Not only did this make a statement, as Claire Williams explained, but it also helped the team psychologically.

“We had an intense morning planned, and to get everything in, it was important to get out from the beginning,” started Russell to media including “But also off the back of last year, I guess it was psychologically important for all of us.

“And for everybody who has worked day and night back at the factory to see their car go out first, from the struggles of last year, it was an incredibly tough time for some of the people back at Grove last year when they’re working absolutely flat out to try and make things ready, working double time.

“So now it’s just a relief for all and can get cracking on this test programme. I think everybody is just pleased to be in this position. Everybody was a bit lost last year because they didn’t know what to do as there was no car here.

“We’re definitely excited for the new season. It was a character building year last year. I’m confident we can go racing this year and have a bit more fun than we did last year. That’s what we’re all looking for.”

P​sychology aside, and focusing more on the performance front, Russell also discussed the areas which the new Williams excels most. Particularly, the Brit highlighted handling as the leading element. “I’d say definitely the general handling of the car is much better.

“I had confidence to push the car to the limit from Lap 1, whereas last year, it wasn’t a nice feeling in the early laps. It was quite scary to drive actually last year in the opening laps, trying to build that confidence and already that’s better.

“But as I keep trying to touch on, not always a nice car to drive is a fast car. So it’s a lap time based sport, and it doesn’t matter how you get around the lap, as long as it’s fast, that’s what counts. It’s been improved in that area.

“Now we just need to see if we have managed to put more downforce onto the car to compete with the guys around me,” summed up Russell. The Brit did 73 laps with Latifi completing 63 and following that, the former has done 71 laps on Day 2’s morning session.

Here’s how Day 1 went

Here’s photos of all the 10 cars including Williams

The story was edited by Darshan Chokhani