After its postponement in the wake of the
worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, and a 63-day shutdown period, the long
anticipated 2020 season officially restarts this weekend in Austria. The
revised calendar will see two races held at the same circuit on
consecutive weekends and to ensure the safety of all involved, the event
will sadly be closed to spectators.
Both George Russell and Nicholas Latifi have spent the last few months
preparing for the new season and Nicholas looks forward to now making
his long awaited debut in Formula One this weekend.
The Red Bull Ring packs a lot into a short lap with plenty of elevation
change punctuated by fast sweeping turns and a number of heavy braking
zones. Located in the Styrian Mountains, the track is one of the most
picturesque circuits on the calendar, providing a spectacular backdrop
for the season opener and the restart of the 2020 FIA Formula One World
Dave Robson, Senior Race Engineer:
Following a long dormant period, Formula One has reconvened in Austria
to open the 2020 season, and the whole team are looking forward to
racing once again. It is a long time since we were preparing the cars,
drivers and engineers for the event in Melbourne and it will be with
anticipation that we fire the cars up ready for FP1. For much of the
last few months we have been in our official shutdown period and so work
on the cars stopped. Since returning from shutdown however, we have
worked hard to ensure that the whole operation is equipped and ready for
the start of the new season. There will be nerves and concerns every
time the car runs, but it is that shot of adrenalin, and feeling of
excitement and jeopardy, that reminds us that we have missed the action
The nature of Formula One in 2020 is a little different to normal and as
a result we will contest the first two rounds of this season at the Red
Bull Ring. The layout of the track as well as the tyre compounds are the
same for both events, and so if weather conditions are stable, then we
have a rare opportunity to test the cars and the drivers over two full
race weekends in near identical conditions.
Austria is a tricky venue for the first race of the season as the
circuit demands efficient downforce, strong ride characteristics and
often very high levels of PU cooling. The lap is short and there are few
opportunities to make up for a mistake, which increases the pressure on
the drivers and the engineers. That said, it is a wonderful setting in
which to race Formula One cars, and it will provide a great atmosphere
and intensity despite being staged behind closed doors.
When we last ran the car in Barcelona, we
were encouraged by the improvements made since the end of 2019, however,
we are under no illusion that we need to keep working hard and maximise
every opportunity we can find to get us further up the grid. We are also
aware that teams will have taken the opportunity to improve their cars
since February; more than ever, predicting the pace of the opposition is
difficult and futile. Our initial efforts will be on making the most of
our car, ensuring that it is reliable and raceable, and on learning for
the intense series of races that lie ahead of us. Both George and
Nicholas are familiar with the circuit and this will allow us to
concentrate on the engineering during running on Friday.
We are pleased and thankful that we are able to return to doing what we
love, however, everyone at Williams, and across Formula One, remembers
those who have suffered, and those who continue to suffer, as a result
of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. We hope that the beginning of the 2020
F1 season will offer a small sense of a return to normality and provide
some exciting new entertainment as the world slowly awakens from a
prolonged and difficult period. We are facing a new future, but we will
face it fairly, respectfully, cooperatively and in a fully inclusive
It goes without saying that I am extremely excited to finally make my
Formula One debut! Itís definitely not been a conventional build up to
the first race of the season but these past few weeks have been good
getting back into the swing of things, upping my preparations, and
getting back into the factory and into the groove with the team. I feel
ready and I feel prepared. It will be a bit strange with all the new
protocols and it will definitely be a lot quieter without any fans.
There will be a lot to get used to but weíre getting to go racing again
and thatís the main thing. I canít wait to hit the track.
Iím really excited to get back racing and at a circuit that I enjoy
driving and have gone well at in the past. It was probably one of my
best races in Formula One last year so Iím really looking forward to it.
Weíve done a lot of virtual racing recently so it will be great to now
race in reality and provide some entertainment for the fans that will be
supporting us from home. From a performance perspective, I donít want to
pre-empt how we will get on as weíve only really had winter testing.
Regardless though, I will be going out there to give it my everything.