‘It felt incredible’ – Russell revels in starring debut Q2 appearance with Williams
You had to go back to Brazil 2018, 610 days ago, to find the last time a Williams driver made it out of the opening segment of qualifying, before George Russell ended that barren run in thrilling style during Saturday’s wet session at the Red Bull Ring.
In treacherously wet conditions, where the playing field is levelled and there’s more of an emphasis on driver skill than car performance, Russell excelled, guiding his FW43 comfortably into Q2 after finishing Q1 in 12th place, between the two Ferraris.
The British racer, who hadn’t made it out of Q1 in 22 previous tries, then finished P12 again in Q2, just 0.008s behind the Ferrari of last week's second-place finisher Charles Leclerc, and ahead of Racing Point’s Lance Stroll, AplhaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat and Haas’s Kevin Magnussen. That ensured Williams finished the day as the seventh quickest team.
Come on! Yes boys! ****** yes! Nice one!
Speaking afterwards, Russell’s smile was evident, even behind his face mask.
“It felt incredible,” he beamed. “It was a real buzz driving – I was giving it everything I had. If somebody said we’d have been a tenth away from the Ferraris [to get] into Q3, there’s no way I would have believed it.
"I had a lot of fun out there," he added. "I’m really pleased for all the guys you know. It’s not quite our true pace, but for all of the hard work of the mechanics, the engineers, who come week in week out, to get this result is a real boost for all of us."
In such dire conditions, a driver needs to have faith in his machinery. "And I did - I really did," said Russell when the question was put to him.
"It was very tricky, I couldn’t see at a lot of points. I was asking my engineer where cars were because I was just keeping it flat on the striaghts when I couldn’t see anything.
"It was great. I’m really happy. Let’s see what we can do tomorrow.”
Russell’s previous best grid position – helped by penalties for others - is P14, while his best race finish is P11. Might this be his chance to score his first F1 points? Now that would be a boost for the team...