Russell: Williams return harder than stepping up to Mercedes

Jonathan Noble
·2-min read

The Briton had been loaned out to Mercedes as replacement for Lewis Hamilton for the Sakhir Grand Prix, and looked all set to grab his maiden F1 victory before a botched pitstop and a late puncture wrecked his hopes.

With Hamilton able to return for last weekend's F1 season finale in Abu Dhabi, Russell returned to the Williams team where he has been racing since 2019.

Reflecting on switching cars once more, Russell admitted it had been quite a challenge to adapt again to the Williams.

"It was actually harder probably jumping back to the Williams, because the Mercedes car is so good," he explained, after finishing 15th in Abu Dhabi.

"It's what every driver wants from a race car what the Mercedes gives you, and you feel it. The driver is in control of the Mercedes, whereas sometimes it's almost like our car is controlling the driver.

"We have to react to it, whereas in the Mercedes you are the one controlling it. So I think it's only natural when you've got a great car underneath you, it's a true joy to drive. And maybe that's why I probably got up to speed with it relatively quickly."

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Russell endured a pretty tricky afternoon at the Yas Marina, as he struggled between conflicting requirements of managing brake and tyre temperatures.

"We were really on the limits of brake temperature," he said. "So we were really having to manage the brakes, which requires managing how you attack the brake and managing what brake balance you use. That then consequently hurts the tyres.

"Then I couldn't attack the brakes, and then the tyre temperature was dropping, but the track was getting colder so I needed to attack the corners to keep tyre temperature up. It was sort of on this knife edge throughout the whole race.

"Actually it was a really well managed and executed race for all of the little gremlins in the background. But with the track temp dropping, you need to be able to push the car to the absolute limits and we couldn't really do that.

"So I'm happy we've sort of ended like that. The Alfa were quicker than us this weekend and we beat both Haas and [Antonio] Giovinazzi, so job well done."