George Russell insists Williams’ expectations for the upcoming 2020 Formula 1 season remain “under control” after a promising pre-season test.

The British squad enjoyed an encouraging winter test programme at Barcelona and appeared to have made progress following a dire 2019 campaign in which it scored just a single point and finished bottom of the constructors’ championship.

Despite a positive pre-season, Russell is refusing to get carried away with what Williams can realistically achieve this year.

“I doubt we’re in a better position [compared to 2019],” Russell said.

“I think realistically we are still the slowest car, and we’re not going to get carried away with ourselves, but we’ve definitely reduced the gap.

“Don’t expect to see us in Q2, Q3 sort of thing. We’ve definitely improved, but expectations are all under control.”

While Russell is aware Williams has made a step forward, he says quantifying his team’s progress with its rivals is difficult, effectively leaving him in the dark in terms of its actual competitiveness.

“I know how we have gained, but quantifying against the other teams is very difficult,” he explained.

“I think on overall lap time we were quicker than the Alfa/Alpha [in testing] on the timing board, but it doesn’t count for anything. We were ahead of the Red Bull and Mercedes at one point

“As Williams, we want to progress much further up the grid, and their goals aren’t just to be fighting at the back.

“Over the next few years to be really making some big strides. Hopefully this is the turning point, but it’s a long road, and McLaren is the best example of that.

“How long it took them to recover, and look where they are now. It’s better to underpromise and overdeliver.”