Ex-Formula 1 driver David Coulthard says he found watching Williams’ struggles throughout the 2019 season “a bit painful". 

Williams endured a torrid campaign anchored to the bottom of the constructors’ championship after a delayed winter programme and  an uncompetitive FW34 car hampered its 2019 season.

The British squad managed just a single point across 21 races and had by far the slowest car on the grid, leaving Coulthard saddened by his former team’s recent plight.

“I’m hopeful that Williams can find their way back to being more competitive in the future, because it’s been a bit painful to watch such a great team have the difficulties that they’ve had,” Coulthard said during a fan Q&A at Autosport International.

“Also for George Russell, I think great talent who is cutting his teeth in Formula 1 largely off-screen, because we don’t get to see him very often. He’s too good, he doesn’t even crash and get himself on television!”

Despite facing a tough rookie campaign in uncompetitive machinery, Coulthard believes being out of the spotlight will ultimately help Russell’s career.

“I think that his talent is so strong that with his relationship with Mercedes, I think it will be fine,” Coulthard explained.

“Against Robert Kubica, who came back from that terrible rallying accident, we had a benchmark driver in terms of speed, and George showed consistently that the key thing is that ability to qualify.

“That was never one of my great strengths, but I think he just showed time and time again, irrespective of the car, when the pressure was really on to deliver a lap time, he was able to do that.

“So I have absolutely no doubt that being a bit out of the spotlight has given him the chance to really understand the world of Formula 1, and also to grow into his body.

“He’s a young man right now, and there’s no question that in a few years’ time, he’ll be physically and mentally more able to handle the challenge of a competitive Formula 1 season,” he added.

“I think that’s one thing we tend to underestimate on a number of occasions, managing the fatigue that comes across an entire season when you’re in a championship battle.

“I think that’s where Lewis [Hamilton] has been so strong relative to his teammates, he’s found the right balance.

“I think the pace of a season is something that he is getting the opportunity to learn about that whilst continuing to show he’s got great speed relative to his teammates.

“And he’ll have another opportunity against a new teammate this year, and that will hopefully see him in a top team in the future.”