George Russell believes the first few races of the 2020 Formula 1 season will provide Williams with “an opportunity” when racing finally resumes due to potential rustiness from his rivals.

F1 is currently on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic but championship officials have begun to lay out the groundwork for a potential return with a series of behind closed door European rounds starting with the Austrian Grand Prix on July 5.

With a potential minimum five-month window since drivers last drove their cars during pre-season testing - and seven months since they last raced competitively - Russell reckons the hiatus will hit drivers “incredibly hard” physically when they get back behind the wheel.

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The Briton is using the current lockdown period to maximise his peak fitness in the hope of benefitting from any struggles his rivals may have during the opening rounds of the 2020 campaign.

“[The lockdown] just gives myself the chance to nail my fitness even more,” Russell said in Formula 1’s new official podcast.

“But I think for all of us, it’s going to be incredibly hard. You can train as much as you want, but you obviously lose race fitness.

"Running around the garden or doing weights in the gym is not the same as driving at 200mph around Silverstone, and that g-force is going to hit us hard that first practice session when we get back.

“But like I said, I’m doing everything I can to be prepared for that moment.

“Usually everybody’s at an incredibly high level,” he added. “All the drivers are the best in the world and we’re always racing so much so you just get into this groove.

“But I think [the delayed start] allows people to hopefully get a bit of an advantage when we go back.

"If people are still rusty, if people are going to make mistakes, it’s going to be in the opening few races, so I need to make sure I’m not one of them.

“Also, from the team’s perspective, I need to try and motivate the guys around me to say, ‘Right, this is an opportunity that we’re not really going to get ever again, so let’s make sure we make the most of these opening few races when we get back.’”