RACE DEBRIEF

    There seems little doubt that, come the end of 2021, George Russell’s sensational Q3 lap from the Belgian Grand Prix will stand out as one of the the moments of the season. And it certainly caught the eye of 2009 world champion Jenson Button, who was moved to contact Williams team boss Jost Capito in the aftermath of qualifying to praise Russell’s efforts.

    In wet conditions around Spa-Francorchamps, Russell – already known as ‘Mr Saturday’ for his strong qualifying performances – put in a lap for the ages in Q3 to put himself P2 on the grid in the unfancied Williams FW43B.

    READ MORE: Hamilton hails ‘fantastic’ Russell after Williams driver beats him to front row at Spa

    And Capito revealed how Russell’s lap had drawn admiration from 2009 champ – and 2012 Spa winner – Button, now working as a Senior Advisor for the team.

    “Immediately after the lap I got a text message from Jenson, and Jenson wrote, ‘That was one of the best laps I have ever seen in my life,’” said Capito. “That sums it up. If that comes from Jenson, just after he’s finished the lap, that sums it up, he knows what he’s talking about… It was an absolutely stunning performance from George.”

    2021 Belgian GP Qualifying: Onboard for George Russell’s brilliant P2 lap

    Russell – who would go on to be classified second in the foreshortened Belgian Grand Prix for his first ever F1 podium – notably lapped Spa in Q3 a full 2.416s faster than Valtteri Bottas, the driver with whom he’s vying for a seat alongside Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes next year.

    But asked whether, given his performance at Spa, Russell might be more tempted to stay at Williams rather than going to Mercedes for 2022, Capito laughed before replying: “That’s a difficult question – you should ask him about that!

    READ MORE: Russell or Bottas? Wolff says Mercedes have decided who will partner Hamilton in 2022

    “I think this year we’ve had a couple of really great moments together that we enjoyed… When he came for the [post-qualifying] press conference I said, look, George, these moments, nobody will take these moments away from you and me, they will be with us forever.

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    Russell enjoyed his first ever F1 podium

    “He deserves to get the seat at Mercedes,” Capito added. “We will not be in the position next year to win the championship, that is for sure. I think he enjoys the season with us and for sure if he won’t get the offer from Mercedes… [he’d be] happy to stay with us because I think we bond so well together now as a team.

    “I think we have a great confidence in each other and a belief in each other – and that is shown by the results.”

    READ MORE: ‘A podium is a podium’ – Capito thrilled with Williams’ first top 3 result since 2017, despite bizarre circumstances

    Those results include Williams’ first consecutive double points since the 2016 Italian Grand Prix, thanks to Nicholas Latifi’s ninth-place finish at Spa, to go with his and Russell’s P7 and P8 from the Hungarian Grand Prix – with Williams now 17 points clear of ninth-placed rivals Alfa Romeo in the constructors’ standings.