George Russell said he was optimistic that the beleaguered up for sale Williams team can improve this season and ignite a recovery.
The highly-rated young British driver, who is partnered with Canadian Nicholas Latifi, the only rookie in the field this year, said on Thursday that the team's car was a big improvement on last year's.
"We made some steps last year, but it was a really difficult car to drive," Russell told a controlled official news conference by video ahead of this weekend's season-opening Austrian Grand Prix.
"I really tried to push it to the limit, but was snapping on me. I was losing the rear end and losing confidence.
"We've only been to Barcelona so far (in testing) but the car was pleasant to drive so I think that for me and for Nicholas it's going to give us confidence and bring more performance."
Williams, one of the most famous and successful teams in F1 history, had their worst season on record last year, scoring only one point.
The team said it was looking for new investment or a buyer after suffering financially due to the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.
"We are making progress," said Russell. "It's very difficult when you come from so far behind the rest of the pack, but I think we’ll judge our performance based on the others.
"Let's see how we hopefully have closed the gap to P9 in the constructors and the rest of the midfield and go from there."
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