George Russell accepts Williams' Formula 1 rivals Haas and Alfa Romeo will enjoy a significant upturn in performance in 2021 due to the likely gains Ferrari will make with its power unit. 

Ferrari endured its worst season since 1980 as it finished sixth in the constructors’ championship.

An underperforming power unit was the main reason for the Scuderia’s struggles in 2020 resulting in a difficult year for customer teams Alfa Romeo and Haas.

Speaking at the launch of the Williams FW43B, Russell is wary of the positive impact Ferrari’s new improved power unit will have on Williams' likely rivals in 2021.

“As we saw last year, the points separating the teams at the back of the grid were very small numbers, so you only need one big weekend and that can catapult you from last to eighth in the constructors’,  which from a team side is huge and obviously from my side it’s huge,” Russell said.

“Like I say, Haas and Alfa Romeo were our two rivals last year, it’s no secret that the Ferrari engine will be much stronger this year which puts us slightly on the back foot but I think the guys have done a great job over the winter and I think as a minimum we want to be in the same position as we were last year, taking into consideration the improvements of the Ferrari engine.

“But trying to minimise that gap to the back end of the midfield, which I believe there are possibilities for.”

Russell’s strong qualifying performances caught the headlines in 2020, reaching Q2 on nine occasions for Williams. 

The Briton did score his maiden F1 points while driving for Mercedes in place of Lewis Hamilton but he’s yet to do so in Williams machinery.

Looking to 2021, Russell is keen to maximise his points scoring opportunities after throwing away likely top ten finishes at Mugello and Imola last season with costly mistakes.

“To try and become Mr Sunday instead of Mr Saturday! That’s where you get the [points]. No I think it’s clear to me personally, just continuing to improve over the course,” Russell added.

“What’s happened over the last two years, I think on the personal side I’ve got some good foundations but I still feel like I’ve got a lot I need to work on and improve if I want to be at the top of my game and ultimately one day be fighting for victories and championships - I still need to improve on some of the minor details. And probably capitalising on some of the opportunities.”