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Disappointment for Norfolk star Russell as Williams miss testing

George Russell, right, and Robert Kubica during the Williams 2019 livery launch. The car is not ready for the first day of testing Picture: PA

George Russell, right, and Robert Kubica during the Williams 2019 livery launch. The car is not ready for the first day of testing Picture: PA

PA Wire/PA Images

Norfolk racing star George Russell is already playing catch-up in his debut campaign with Williams.

Russell, who turned 21 on Friday, had hoped to be behind the wheel on Monday, but Williams have been forced to withdraw from the opening day of Formula One pre-season testing because their car is not ready.

The British team were due to be among the sport’s 10 outfits to hit the track at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya for the opening winter running.

But in a blow to the team, which last year finished rooted to the foot of the constructors’ championship, Claire Williams has revealed they will only be watching from the sidelines.

The Williams deputy team principal said: “Unfortunately, we have had to delay the start of our pre-season Barcelona test to Tuesday morning.

“We have had an incredibly busy winter at Grove getting the FW42 prepared for the season ahead and, despite everyone’s best efforts, we need some more time before it will be ready to run.

“Our absolute priority is to always ensure we bring a car to the track that is the best that it can be and sometimes that takes longer than you’d anticipate or like. It’s clearly not ideal, but equally it’s not the end of the world.

“We will obviously have our work cut out to recover the time lost but we still have seven days of testing left and we will be maximising that time to prepare the car for the first race.”

Russell and the returning Robert Kubica will now be playing catch-up for a team bidding to bounce back from last season’s miserable campaign.

The first pre-season takes place over four days before a second four-day test the following week. The new campaign starts in Melbourne on March 17.

Meanwhile, Billy Monger will be part of Channel 4’s presenting team for the new F1 season.

Monger, 19, had both of his legs amputated following a horrific Formula Four crash at Donington Park in 2017.

Remarkably, he returned to motor racing last year, competing in the British Formula Three series in a specially-adapted car. He will present alongside 13-time race winner David Coulthard and former Red Bull driver, Mark Webber.

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