The Williams Racing F1 team, partnered by Acronis, will be hoping to build on a highly encouraging start to the season that so nearly saw them return home with points in Imola.
George Russell yet again made it through to Q2 for the second race in succession and was running a strong tenth in the race before an unfortunate collision with Valtteri Bottas led to the dramatic retirement of both cars at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
Last season marked the first appearance of the technically challenging Algarve International Circuit in Portimão, and the circuit proved an instant hit with both drivers and watching fans alike.
“I love Portimão because the circuit is very flowing and undulating,” said Russell for his team’s race preview. “The corner types also allow you to do very different lines as they’re quite wide on the entries, there’s not one specific line to drive to go around the corner fastest. That really helps for racing as at almost every corner you can take a different line to get out of the dirty air.
“You arrive through some corners flat out and blind, not being able to see what is 200 metres ahead, but I think that’s what adds to the thrill of the circuit. It’s a fantastic place and I can’t wait to go racing there again.”
Race week. 🇵🇹 Eyes forward, let's go! pic.twitter.com/940cGALoyQ
— George Russell (@GeorgeRussell63) April 26, 2021
For Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance, Portimão represents yet another opportunity to build on an encouraging start to the season as the team goes in hunt of valuable points.
“The result in Imola was disappointing and has required a big effort from the factory to recover our stock of parts. Fortunately, there were a lot of good things from the weekend too and we are now in Portugal looking forward to building on the progress made last time out,” commented Robson.
“Portimão is an excellent circuit, fast and flowing with a lot of elevation change. With the final corner being very quick, the straight is long and fast, especially with DRS. The circuit had been recently resurfaced when we were here last year and that made conditions difficult for the tyres. Pirelli have brought the same compounds as last year – the hardest of their range – but the maturing of the tarmac should improve the overall performance.
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“Last year we had a reasonably successful weekend and both drivers enjoyed the challenge of the circuit. We hope that the FW43B will work well here, allowing us to build on the performance that we showed in Imola. We have plenty of work to get through on Friday, primarily focussing on the tyres, but we are looking forward to the challenge.”
As far as the championship situation goes, it’s set up for a fascinating battle. Rivals Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have notched a race victory and second place apiece in the opening two races.
It’s Hamilton who leads by a solitary point courtesy of a fastest lap in Bahrain and he won from pole position here last year, breaking Michael Schumacher’s tally of 91 F1 victories in the process.
Thumbs up – it's race week! 👍🏻 #NL6 pic.twitter.com/1AgPxUTXd5
— Nicholas Latifi (@NicholasLatifi) April 26, 2021