Williams is hoping its new car will be competitive enough for fight for positions in Q2 this season, after an encouraging start to testing.

The 2019 Williams was late to begin testing and well off the pace when it did eventually run, leaving the team well adrift of the rest of the midfield teams for the rest of the year. After an overhaul of personnel and systems, Williams enjoyed a much more productive opening test this year, with a best lap time just 0.014s off Ferrari’s quickest, and more mileage than Haas. Following the positive start, deputy team principal Claire Williams is targeting a car capable of fighting in the midfield, rather than simply closing part of the gap.

“We want to go racing,” Williams said. “We’re here in Formula 1 to go racing, that’s why Williams exists. We’re not here to do anything else, we’re here because we love racing, and last year we just weren’t racing.

Russell has said that the new car is more balanced and stable compared to that of a year ago, and Williams agreed there has been a clear improvement even if the overall competitive landscape is still unclear.

“It’s too early to really truly tell where anybody really is, as we’re all doing our individual programs,” she said. “So to compare and contrast is difficult. But certainly we feel we’ve made a step forward. It won’t be until we get to Melbourne that we’ll understand where we truly are in the competitive order. I’m sure we’ll get some more data next week when people start doing proper qualifying runs, but until then we need to wait and see.”

The midfield was extremely competitive in 2019, and Williams is aware how tough it will be to erase the deficit, but said the team is still undergoing a number of changes that will take more time to show progress.

“We are still on our journey to recovery and still putting bricks in the wall in order to achieve that,” she said. “Certainly, for everyone behind the scenes, we’ve undergone huge transformation and change, and what we would like to see now is the rewards of that change, as the business really is unrecognizable from where we were.

“Whether that be structures, processes, policies, in how we go about building a race car is very different to how it was in 2018 and prior to that. So to continue learning is obviously a key objective, we’re still going to be learning, in order to make continual improvement.

“I’m so pleased to see the changes we have made are being embraced by everyone in the team, but we’ve still got a long way to go to see Williams to where we want to see it.”

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