George Russell believes he extracted the “maximum potential” from Williams’ 2019 Formula 1 car during qualifying for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix. 

Williams has endured a tumultuous start to the 2019 campaign after delays with its uncompetitive FW42 left the team on the back foot having missed the opening two days of pre-season testing. 

The Grove-based squad finished four seconds off the pace in qualifying for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, leaving the team adrift at the back of the Melbourne grid in 19th and 20th.

Five questions that need answering in F1 2019

21-year-old rookie Russell outpaced teammate Robert Kubica by 1.7s as the Pole suffered a puncture after hitting the wall on his final run in Q1.

“I think Barcelona I was probably at 99 percent but today, that was our maximum potential,” Russell said. 

“I think positively in the sense form my side and engineers was we got the maximum out of the package we’ve got. 

“I was very satisfied to be honest and I think overall the car was very nice to drive. Myself and my two engineers who are the main focus of getting the most out of our side of the garage did a really great job.

“All three laps in Q1 I crossed the line with a smile on my face and felt like I got the most out of it, but obviously overall we want more than that, and obviously I want to be in the car longer than the first 18 minute of Q1.”

Russell revealed Williams is suffering from a “fundamental” issue the team is currently working to understand, though he admitted a fix could be months away. 

“We understand what that is but it doesn’t mean we can wake up on Monday morning and rectify it,” Russell explained. 

“To change something so fundamental will take months of development and work in the simulator, the designers working out how to do it, but that’s what needs to be done at the moment. 

“Unfortunately we’re looking at a number of races before we’re going to be able to fight. That’s just where we are at the moment.

“I think once we’ve solved that fundamental there’ll be a big leap, we’ll probably still be at the back of the grid but with a chance to fight. 

"At the moment the fact is we don’t really have any hope because we’re too far behind.” 

The Briton said he would be approaching his grand prix debut as a test session to continue learning about Williams’ 2019 car, adding he has no interest in fighting Kubica for “19th place”. 

“The main job now is to really help the team understand the weaknesses and how to go forward,” he explained. 

“I’ve got no interest in fighting Robert for 19th place, we want to work together to push the team forward, we’re not here for that.”