George Russell believes Williams has made great progress throughout the 2019 Formula 1 season and is optimistic about the team’s chances heading into next year.

After a disastrous start to the campaign following a delayed build of its uncompetitive FW42 challenger, Williams has managed to make marginal gains as the season has worn on, despite being anchored to the bottom of the constructors’ championship.

The British squad trialled a new front wing concept at the Japanese Grand Prix and Russell reckons the development can “unlock quite a lot” of potential for Williams' 2020 car. 

“It’s definitely improved a lot, just in the driveability side of things,” Russell said.

“From within, it’s definitely a nicer car to drive. It is obviously, always difficult to make huge leaps forward for any team but I think the foundations we have in place now are really positive going into next year."

Speaking about the new front wing, Russell added: “It should hopefully unlock quite a lot for us moving into 2020, so I’ve got faith we should be fighting. Probably towards the lower end of the midfield but hopefully in the mix much more than we are at the moment.”

Russell continued his streak of outqualifying teammate Robert Kubica in Japan and went on to finish 18th at Suzuka, though he remains behind the Pole in the drivers’ standings due to Kubica claiming Williams’ sole points finish of 2019 in Germany.

Asked if his rookie F1 season has met his expectations so far, Russell replied: “I think it has met my pre-season expectations, just the whole Formula 1 rollercoaster itself.

“I wasn’t 100% sure what to expect but I’m really happy with how the season has gone generally.

“From the good moments personally to the tougher times I wouldn’t change anything at all because especially from the tougher times I’ve learned a huge amount.

“Generally being in the position I have been, at the back of the grid, it’s given me an opportunity to just explore a bit more and go under the radar and hopefully that will help me out in years to come when we should be fighting.”