Russell starred in qualifying as he narrowly missed out on a spot in Q3 by just 0.057s, ultimately starting Sunday’s race from 11th place.

The Mercedes junior struggled for pace immediately off the start, dropping from 11th to 16th in a matter of laps.

Russell finished a disappointing 16th, only beating the two Haas drivers and Williams teammate Nicholas Latifi.

 

 

Reflecting on the race at Portimao, Russell blamed the “aerodynamic sensitivity” of the Williams FW43B for his poor race day performance.

“Yeah it definitely, incredible struggle, probably the most difficult race we’ve had since 2019, Russell said. “I said it since the beginning, we know the strengths and we know the weaknesses of our car, incredibly sensitive aerodynamically. 

“We saw at Imola when conditions are calmer and performance was there, we saw yesterday in qualifying, conditions calmed down from that Q2 run and the performance was there, as it was in FP1 and the performance was there, and we saw today it was nowhere. And unfortunately that’s the nature of the beast with our car at the moment. 

“We’ve had three races now, two of which have been very gusty and exposed circuits. So fingers crossed we’re not talking about this all season.”

Russell doubts his poor start in the opening laps cost him a shot of scoring his first points for Williams.

“It would have made no difference, we would have dropped back regardless,” Russell added. “That is the nature of when the car is so sensitive aerodynamically it gives no confidence in myself or Nicholas to attack in those first laps. 

“We’re constantly on the backfoot battling from behind and it was a race of survival, keeping the car on the track as opposed to actually racing and as I said one of the hardest races we’ve ever done. So it was a real shame, as the car has potential. 

“Have we just been unlucky? I don’t know. Will this be the story of the season? Perhaps not, as we have been two of three races very gusty, very windy, everyone up and down the pit lane has been talking about it and Bahrain and Portimao are very exposed. Let’s see as the season progresses. It is clear there is pace in the car but the stars have to align for us else we’re going to be nowhere really, as we were today.”