The one-off appearance George Russell made for Mercedes last year may help his Williams team improve the poor starts which dogged their campaign.

Russell drove for Mercedes as Lewis Hamilton’s substitute at the Sakhir Grand Prix, which gave him useful experience of the world champions’ systems and procedures. Russell’s single race start for them saw him immediately overtake team mate Valtteri Bottas and take the lead of the race.

Last year Russell described Williams’ starts as “atrocious”. The team’s head of vehicle performance Dave Robson said their driver returned from Mercedes with thoughts on how they could improve their starts.

“He has had some good starts in our car but I think what we’re lacking is the consistency,” Robson explained. “Obviously he’s only had one [start] in a Mercedes and it was good so strictly you can’t say much about the consistency. But to be fair to them, their starts are generally consistently good.

“It’s probably as much down to what they do on their car than it is the driver. He’s got some ideas about particularly how he might like to change the clutch paddle, so the sort of ergonomics of what they do. So that’s something we can look at over the winter. Otherwise I think probably the whole drivetrain systems are a bit too different.”

Robson believes the differences between the team’s starts may also be related to how they control their tyre temperatures.

“What’s potentially more interesting is the tyre preparation,” he said. “How you understand the grip that you’re going to have at the start and therefore what the clutch target is. So that’s probably something for us to learn about.”

The team is using the off-season to glean any useful information they may gain from Russell’s appearance for Mercedes.

“I’m sure they do things slightly differently, the way they organise their weekends and what they focus on,” said Robson.

“[But] I think the fundamental car paces are probably so different that in his mind he’s probably focussing on the wrong things at the moment as in we can’t just make our car like their as simply as he would obviously like.”

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