Williams Racing and departing George Russell looking to sign off 2021 on a high in Abu Dhabi

The Williams Racing F1 team, partnered by Acronis, and departing driver George Russell will be looking to sign off an eventful season on a high note at the season ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

It was with great sadness that the F1 community bade farewell to one of the sport’s great team owners and founders in Sir Frank Williams last weekend, but also with huge optimism that his great name can go from strength-to-strength next season and beyond.

There will also be cause to celebrate the great work of driver George Russell as the team bids the Englishman farewell and wishes him the best for his new adventure alongside Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes after his three-year spell.

“At the centre of much of what we have achieved over the last few years has been George,” commented Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance. “This weekend is his final race for the team. His enthusiasm, dedication and tremendous skill – as well as the occasional well-founded criticism – has been a major inspiration to the team throughout the bad times and the good times.

“We thank him for everything that he has brought to the team, wish him well for his future with Mercedes, and we hope that we have been able to give him some valuable experience and ideas that will serve him well in the future.”

For his part, Russell paid tribute and thanked the team that gave him his big break at the pinnacle of motorsport and, as usual, vowed to bring his very best to the circuit in order to bag more points for the team.

“We head to Abu Dhabi for the final race of the season and what is sure to be a weekend full of mixed emotions as my journey with Williams comes to an end,” said Russell. “It has been an incredible three years with the team, with many highs but also some lows, but I am determined to go out in the best possible fashion and help the team secure eighth place in the Constructors’ Championship.

“It would be a fitting reward for all the hard work and efforts from everyone at Grove over the past few years as we’ve battled back from our difficulties when I first joined the team.”

As one brilliant young English driver departs the Williams team after Abu Dhabi, so another promising talent in team Reserve Driver Jack Aitken will take to the track alongside Nicholas Latifi during the first Free Practice session.

“It’s a pretty special experience every time I get to drive the Williams car and it’s great to be back with the boys and girls trackside again,” commented Aitken, who returns to action having recovered from multiple injuries suffered in an accident during the Spa 24 Hours event in July.

“The team has seen some good results in 2021 and I’ve been working in the simulator throughout the year to keep abreast of the FW43B’s development, so that’s given me a good idea of the characteristics to expect whilst out on track.”

As for the challenges of the impressive Yas Marina Circuit itself, that will see the F1 championship decided, new renovations including a wider hairpin at turn seven and a sweeping banked turn that replaces a series of 90-degree bends at the end of the second back straight will pose fresh challenges for the teams and drivers.

“The circuit layout has been modified considerably since last year with fewer corners and a more flowing beginning and end to the double straight section,” adds Robson. “Combined with changes to the penultimate corner, the circuit is now significantly quicker, and the ease of overtaking may also be improved.

“The modified areas inevitably have a newer and smoother surface, which will have a small effect on tyre behaviour.”

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Motorsport Technology