Russell reveals Williams sim improvement after Virtual GP exploits

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George Russell has revealed his pace on the Williams simulator improved following his success in the Virtual GP.

Though a little later than the likes of Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris in joining the eSports gang, the Briton soon started dominating once he took it seriously and won the final four Virtual GP's to become the unofficial champion.

Of course, now all attention is on the real 2020 Formula 1 season starting next weekend, but upon returning to Williams' factory and sim in Grove, Russell was shocked by how his work at home had impacted his performance.

“[There was] one that was very interesting for me,” he said via The Race. “I jumped onto the sim for the first time yesterday at Williams, that was my first day since pre-Australia, and post-Barcelona [pre-season testing]. 

“Post-Barcelona, I did some correlation work, to make sure the car was feeling well compared to what I felt in Barcelona.

“And I said to my engineer, ‘right, I’d like to just use that exact same set-up, just to get the baseline of where my level is at compared to [before the] shutdown, this break we’ve had and obviously, after all of my eSports driving.

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“So, we’ve jumped back on with the exact same set-up, and my first two laps I was seconds off, absolutely seconds off. And I was like ‘oh my God, it’s going to take forever’.

“But by my 14th lap, I was actually quicker than what I did prior to Australia, and post-Barcelona, with the exact same set-up and I was staggered.

“As soon as I just got back into the groove of it, it was incredible and I was thinking, I’m sure part of that has been from doing all of this sim stuff and eSports stuff at home. Keeping my body sharp, my mind sharp.

“At the end of the day, it’s still driving, you’ve still got to brake as late as you can, carry as much speed through the corners as you can, [get on the] power early, all of these are just core values of racing and going fast.

“And even though it took me a few laps just to re-learn how a Formula 1 car feels versus a Formula 1 car feeling on the computer. I was straight back on it and as I said, I surprised myself with that.”

Another driver who joined the Twitch squad was Red Bull's Alex Albon, and the Thai driver admits the past few months has given F1 drivers a unique chance to interact.

George Russell Williams Racing F1

“I think already what I’ve realised is that definitely [there is] this feeling that the fans have been able to really connect to the drivers,” he said at the FIA eConference.

“It’s just the way that F1 is of course, it’s very difficult to kind of really get to know a driver. That feeling of being at home, speaking to your audience and getting that interaction is something really special.

"I think it’s very open and you can speak to everyone pretty openly and we do have an amazing fan base. I think the community is extremely loving.

“I don’t see why that won’t carry on through to real life really. It’s just going to continue I think. It’s obviously going to be very busy now but once the season does stop when we get into the Christmas, New Year period, we’re all going to be jumping back on and kind of keeping that engagement going.”