George Russell finally returned to winning ways by taking victory in race two at Spa-Francorchamps on Friday, with the Briton now sitting third in the standings behind Lance Stroll and Maximilian Günther.
Starting from pole position for only the second time in 2016, Russell dropped to third on the opening lap, but the Hitech GP driver took back second when team-mate Nikita Mazepin dropped out, and then hunted down and passed Joel Eriksson for the win.
Russell even survived a light rain shower at the back end of the circuit to claim the victory and stand on the top step of the podium for only the third time in his FIA European Formula 3 Championship career.
“I had a good start and I was able to take the lead, but I knew already that it would be difficult to defend the lead throughout the opening lap,” said Russell on fiaf3europe.com. “On the Kemmel straight, I already saw four cars in my rear-view mirrors, all wanting to attack.
“Eventually, only Joel Eriksson and Nikita Mazepin managed. Nikita having retired at the end of the first lap, I was back in second place again. My car was really fast, so I was able to take back the lead again later on.
“It was only difficult when a slight drizzle set in at the back of the track, but I made it through and I am happy with this victory for my team.”
Russell saw a second pole of the weekend go to waste with a poor getaway in Saturday’s final race, but recovered superbly to claim the final podium position, passing championship leader Stroll twice on consecutive laps as the two battled hard down the Kemmel Straight.
“My start was poor, so that I was all the way down in 13th or 14th place going into Les Combes,” said Russell. “After that, I overtook one driver after another, which sometimes wasn’t that easy at all.
“At the end, I was involved in a battle for third with Lance Stroll. Shortly after I had overtaken him, I almost crashed into the barriers. Thus, Lance was able to overtake me again, but I finally went past him soon after that.”