F1 2019: George Russell thrilled to be part of motorsport's elite
"F1 is not like any other sport," says British rookie; Russell believes Williams arrive in Melbourne with no pressure after winter troubles
By James Galloway in Melbourne
Last Updated: 14/03/19 8:52am
George Russell says his excitement at entering motorsport's elite category far outweighs any early worries about Williams' form heading into the new F1 season.
Russell, the reigning F2 champion, is one of three British-born youngsters making their full race debuts in Australia this weekend.
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But while fellow rookies Lando Norris and Alexander Albon could have cars to find themselves in points contention on Sunday, Russell's Williams team are expected to prop up the field after a turbulent winter.
However, a beaming Russell insisted: "I'm extremely looking forward to it.
"This is Formula 1 and there are thousands of people who would dream to have my position.
"F1 is not like any other sport. In football, there's 20 teams in the Premier League with 20 or 30 players in every team. If you can't make it in the Premier League, you go to the league below, or you go to play in Holland, or Germany, or Italy.
"But in F1, it's just the 20 best drivers and already being here is a huge achievement."
Williams have 'no pressure'
The former world champions have experienced a fraught build-up to the new season.
Delays in the build of their 2019 car meant they missed the first two-and-a-half days of winter testing, with technical boss Paddy Lowe subsequently taking a sudden leave of absence.
Russell acknowledges external expectations are low, but believes that could actually play to the team's advantage.
"From my side and the team's side, we are going in there with no pressure on our shoulders," said the 21-year-old.
"Everybody is expecting us to finish last by a long way, come out of the garage and for the wheels to fall off the car, and so anything else we do is going to be an achievement from the outside perspective.
"I'm just going out there to enjoy it, make the most of it and we just need to build on this."
Crucially, Russell believes the early signs from testing suggest the FW42 does not retain the same fundamental problems as its predecessor.
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"We have some good foundations in the car, the driveability feels nice, and the guys can really focus on making the car go quicker and putting more downforce on it.
"When you compare it to last year when they had some huge balance issues on it, they spent all their time trying to overcome that. We might not be there now, but we have some good foundations to build on."
Lowe's departure means Williams arrival at the first race without a recognised technical figurehead, but Russell said he was simply focusing on his debut weekend.
"There's a lot going on, but it's not my job to worry about," he added. "It's my job to drive the car as quick as possible and I've got my race engineer and my performance engineer who I deal with on a day-to-day basis.
"We're just focused on making the most of the package we've got."
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