The Austrian Grand Prix marked a “turning point” for the Williams Formula 1 team, according to deputy team principal Claire Williams.

Williams was more competitive than it expected to be throughout the F1 season-opener in Austria last weekend, as George Russell narrowly missed out on a first appearance in Q2 by just 0.073s during qualifying on Saturday.

Russell’s form continued into Sunday with the Briton running as high as 12th in the race until he was forced into retirement with an engine issue, while teammate Nicholas Latifi just missed out on a points-finish on his F1 debut. The Canadian was the last classified runner in 11th place during a race of attrition.

It marked a significant step forward in performance compared to its dire 2019 campaign, and Williams believes it was an important moment for the Grove-based outfit.

“Last weekend was a lovely turning point for the team and I know I mustn’t get carried away, I know it was race one, but we have talked for so many months now about the work that we have been doing at the team, behind the scenes, to bring about that change in performance,” Williams said.

“It’s been an incredibly difficult two years for everybody at Williams, to keep turning up, I have to congratulated the team both here and at the factory, because everybody has put in so much effort and everybody particularly coming racing.

“It’s been incredibly difficult to keep turning up, knowing that we wouldn’t get out of Q1, that there was no chance of scoring points etc and so it was really wonderful to show the world that we have delivered on our promises of bringing progress to our team and to be able to close that gap to P8/P9.

“We have a long way to go still but it certainly felt like exoneration on Sunday, that we had shown that we had made a step forward,” she added.

“We’ve got work still to do, as I said, but it just feels wonderful to go racing again. That’s why Williams is in this sport, to race and to do that on Sunday was wonderful, as I said, and I hope that we continue to do that over the balance of this season.”

Williams made a promising start to this weekend’s second consecutive race at the Red Bull Ring as Russell ended second practice 15th, outpacing Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari.

 

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