'We're not here to fight for last' - Norfolk star Russell on F1 grand prix debut
PUBLISHED: 11:01 17 March 2019 | UPDATED: 11:54 17 March 2019
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Norfolk Formula 1 star George Russell admitted the work starts now for Williams after a difficult debut round at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.
The King’s Lynn-born driver and 2018 Formula 2 champion started his rookie F1 season from the back row of the grid on Sunday, in a 2019 Williams car that is a long way short of the team’s prestigious racing history.
Russell finished 16th with team-mate Robert Kubica the only classified finished behind him, lapped and with plenty of ground to make up on the midfield pack.
Russell is also backed by Mercedes – and it was their Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas who won the season’s opening race, with a dominant display ahead of defending champion Lewis Hamilton and the third-placed Red Bull of Max Verstappen.
“I think we learnt a lot but obviously we’re not here to fight for last,” said 21-year-old Russell. “We can almost say these are practice sessions for when we’ve got the pace.
“From a personal perspective, you’ve only got your team-mate to compare against and obviously I’m not disappointed to have come out on top.
“But at the end of the day I’m not interested in fighting him for last, we need to work together to make this right.”
Fellow Brit Lando Norris was the best placed of the three rookies this season, taking his McLaren to 12th at the chequered flag.
As for Norwich-backed Toro Rosso driver Alexander Albon, the Thai-Brit finished 14th.
“Mixed feelings today,” admitted Albon. “It was my first experience of a race weekend and I didn’t really know what to expect. We were in a battle with Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo) and that compromised our race, but I’m still happy with how my weekend went.
“I think we could have had points so that stings a little, but it was a good experience and I came away with a clean weekend, relatively speaking.”
Team principal Franz Tost added: “Alex did a great job because this was his first race in F1 and it’s not an easy circuit around here.
“Nevertheless, he didn’t make any mistakes and learned a lot throughout the weekend. After the first race weekend, we feel we have a strong package, so I’m optimistic for the next races.”