George Russell is relieved he will be heading into the new Formula 1 season with a car that is no longer scary to drive.
On the first day of pre-season testing at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya, Russell was the first out of the pits in Williams' FW43.
The Briton completed 73 laps, with his best a one minute 18.168s, 0.9s quicker than in qualifying for last year's Spanish Grand Prix.
The contrast to last year could not be more different as Williams missed the first two days of testing ahead of the worst season in their history as they finished 10th in the constructors' championship, scoring just one point.
Russell said: "It's better than this time last year because this time last year the car was still in bits, so that's one bonus.
"The general handling of the car is much better. From lap one today I had the confidence to push the car to the limit.
"Last year it wasn't a nice feeling in the early laps. It was scary to drive in the opening laps, trying to build that confidence. Already that's better.
"But it's a laptime-based sport, and it doesn't matter how you get around the lap as long as it's fast. That's all that counts.
"There's improvement in that area, so we just need to see if we've smashed enough downforce on to the car to compete with other guys around me."
Russell claims there was a degree of psychology involved in ensuring his car was the first to hit the Spanish track.
"We had an intense morning planned, and to get everything in, it was important to get out from the beginning," added Russell.
"But also off the back of last year it was psychologically important for all of us, or everybody who has worked day and night back at the factory to see their car go out first.
"It's a relief for all and now we can get cracking on our test programme."
Russell has already noticed a change in mood within the team compared to a year ago.
He added: "Everybody is just pleased to be in this position. Everybody was a bit lost last year because they had no work to do, there was no car.
"We are definitely excited for the new season. It was a character-building year last year, but I'm confident we can go racing this year and have a bit more fun than we did last year. That's what we're all looking for.
"The build quality of the car is so much a better standard than last year. Things fit properly, the car looks better, from a design perspective, so overall it's been a very positive morning."
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