RACE DEBRIEF

    George Russell’s stunning Spa-Francorchamps qualifying lap put him second on the grid for Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix and the Williams driver said he’ll not only push to keep his position – but perhaps even go one step further and battle Max Verstappen at the start on race day…

    Russell pulled out an incredible lap for provisional pole at the end of Q3 on a wet track in Belgium, but Red Bull’s Verstappen eclipsed him and took pole position in the dying moments. Regardless, Russell will start on the front row for only the second time in his F1 career – ahead of Lewis Hamilton.

    QUALIFYING: Verstappen denies Russell shock pole in dramatic wet qualifying session at Spa

    “I think I was in a fortunate position that we had nothing to lose,” said Russell. “You know, we were in Q3 which was not a norm for us and we had to go for it. We saved a full maximum engine mode for the last lap, and we thought: ‘You know what? Let’s go for it’. Buzzing. Absolutely buzzing. Obviously, tomorrow’s the important one. Got to go out there and score some more points.”

    Asked if he would try and challenge for the lead at the race start on Sunday, he replied: “That’s the plan, that’s the plan. If it’s there for the taking, we’ll go for it.”

    2021 Belgian GP Qualifying: Sensational Russell on front row as Verstappen takes pole

    In the post-qualifying press conference, the 23-year-old was asked where he could realistically finish on Sunday – given his best finish for Williams is P9, which he took last time out in Hungary.

    “We’ve obviously got to be realistic; we’ve got incredibly fast cars behind us but if conditions stay the same we have a car, which is probably quick enough, on merit, for the top 10," he said.

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    Russell lost out on pole by three-tenths at Spa

    “But if we start on the front row there’s no reason we can’t hold on to that position for the majority of the race, but I don’t think I’m going to do anything stupid with the cars around me that are clearly going to be faster than us.

    READ MORE: Watch the thrilling end to qualifying in Belgium as Verstappen pips sensational Russell to pole

    “I think there’s no reason why we can’t finish, if the conditions are like this, top five and just maximise it, so points is an absolute minimum,” he explained.

    Russell has now made it to Q3 in all but one session this season and took a first front row for his team at Spa-Francorchamps since Williams locked out the front row here in 2001. With his 50th Grand Prix on Sunday, can the Briton deliver again?