George Russell had the measure of Robert Kubica at Williams in his rookie F1 year, but the young Brit admits he was often outdone by the Pole in one specific area.
Russell and Kubica entered 2019 with very different ambitions. The former was focused on learning his trade in his freshman year while the latter was out to prove to himself and to his detractors that he still had the ability to compete at the highest level despite an 8-year forced absence from the sport.
However, the two drivers shared a common goal: to beat each other!
With a 100% success rate over Kubica in qualifying, Russell comprehensively came out on top in the teammate battle at Williams.
But the 21-year-old admits that the experienced Pole had the upper hand on race day when the lights went out.
“My story of the last half of the season has been that of getting overtaken by Robert on the first lap, not making good enough starts, not being aggressive enough, then having stronger pace and struggling to overtake him before overtaking him at the mid-point of the race,” Russell explained.
At Formula 1’s season finale in Abu Dhabi, once again Russell finished ahead of Kubica although it had taken him the better part of 24 laps to clear his fellow Williams rival.
“The pace at the end was very, very strong for us, I just need to improve on those opening laps,” he said.
“Equally I need the car underneath me as well, but it was a good way to finish the season.”
Williams’ struggles precluded its drivers from battling higher up the midfield this season. But Russell’s rookie year was anything but overlooked by his Mercedes benefactors or Williams insiders.
“George has served his first season in Formula 1 in difficult circumstances,” said Williams senior engineer Dave Robson.
“However, his talent, drive and enthusiasm are obvious and it is clear that he has everything he needs to be a truly exceptional F1 driver.
“While he may not appreciate it fully yet, this year may prove to have provided him with some very valuable experience that will pay significant dividends in the future.”
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