George Russell: “If we can put it all together tomorrow, we may be rewarded”

by Paul Hensby

George Russell enjoyed his first experiences of the Marina Bay Street Circuit on Friday and feels that Williams Racing can be rewarded with a first appearance in Q2 on Saturday if things go their way.

Russell ended at the bottom of the time sheets in the first session on Friday but was able to move up to eighteenth in the evening session, with the 2018 FIA Formula 2 champion able to set a lap time quicker than Haas F1 Team’s Kevin Magnussen.

The Mercedes-Benz protégé got close to Q2 during the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend ahead of the summer break but missed out by the tiniest of margins, something he hopes does not replicate itself this weekend in Singapore.

“I really enjoyed the practice sessions today,” said Russell.  “Singapore is a great place to drive, but definitely a difficult track where it is easy to make mistakes.

“I think we did a good job in FP2, the lap was really hooked up and the car was feeling relatively good. We have a solid baseline at the moment, but the lap times probably look a bit better than where our pace truly is.

“I want to go out and enjoy the challenge of driving in Singapore with the heat and humidity. If we can put it all together tomorrow, we may be rewarded.”

Team-mate Robert Kubica, who announced ahead of the weekend that he will be leaving Williams at the end of the current campaign, ended seventeenth fastest in the first session before bringing up the rear in the afternoon. 

The Pole felt more at ease with the car in the opening session before losing some confidence with it in the evening, something he will look to address ahead of Saturday’s running.

“It was hot and tough, but we knew it would be like that before coming here,” said Kubica.  “It is the toughest track and the conditions are challenging. As usual, it is never easy to find the feeling on Friday in Singapore.

“FP1 was not bad, but I didn’t get the same feeling in the car in FP2, so we will have to see what we changed and why the balance shifted so much. We will look at the data and move forward from there.”

Robert Kubica – ROKiT Williams Racing – Marina Bay Street Circuit – Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

Senior Race Engineer, Dave Robson, said both drivers were positive after the first session in Singapore, although with the session being held in daylight, it gives an unrepresentative understanding on the track, with the important sessions – Qualifying and the race – being held in conditions more aligned to second practice.

“As usual, FP1 in Singapore was a little tricky and unrepresentative as the track was both hot and dusty,” said Robson.  “We spent our time getting both drivers up to speed with this demanding track and we also began to understand how the Option tyre compound will behave.

“We completed a couple of background checks which will help direct some of the development of the FW43 and were happy to complete the session to plan and with both drivers fairly happy with their cars.

“FP2 is the most useful and representative of the practice sessions in Singapore and as a result all cars completed a lot of laps. The session was generally quite quiet, and we were able to continue our tyre work, using the Qualifying C5 compound at low fuel and then splitting the cars between Option and Prime for the majority of the high fuel running.”

Robson says there is a possibility of getting amongst the midfield in Singapore, particularly seeing how close Williams were to the likes of the Haas and Alfa Romeo Racing on Friday. 

“The car is performing reasonably well here, and we were quite close to both the Haas and Alfa Romeo cars in the evening session,” said Robson.  “There is a lot to do overnight but we will do everything necessary to give ourselves the best chance of a successful Q1 session tomorrow.”

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