George Russell was positive that Williams Racing were closer to the midfield pack than they were expecting to be at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, but it was a shame a mistake from someone ahead of him prevented him from improving his time late on in Q1.
The 2018 FIA Formula 2 champion had already done enough to out-qualify team-mate Robert Kubica with his opening lap time but he felt there was still time to be found in his FW42, only for gravel on the exit of the second chicane, brought onto the track by a car running just ahead of Russell, to cost him the chance to improve.
“My first lap was very good, but my second run was a bit of a shame,” said Russell. “I came out of turn five and one of the cars ahead of me had gone off through the gravel and brought a load of it back on, so I had no grip at the next corner.
“However, it is positive that we were closer to the rest of the field than expected and I can be happy with qualifying, as I feel that we did quite a good job to maximise our package.”
Kubica knew it was not going to be an easy session for Williams such is the pace deficit compared to the rest of the field, but he was disappointed that the good feeling he felt in the FW42 earlier in the weekend did not continue into Qualifying.
“We knew it would not be an easy session for us, but that is how it is,” said Kubica. “The feeling up to qualifying in the car was not too bad, then in qualifying, the balance changed completely which was a bit disappointing to see.
“We have to see what the weather will do tomorrow and hope for the best.”
Dave Robson, the Senior Race Engineer at Williams, said the interruption in Q1, when Sergio Pérez stopped on track with a power unit issue, allowed both drivers to get another run in, but a mistake by a driver ahead of Russell prevented him from improving his time. However, both drivers are set to gain places on the grid as they profit from penalties for others.
“In qualifying, the interruption to Q1 for the red flag led us to complete an additional run of a single timed lap at the end of the session,” said Robson. “Robert was able to get a reasonably clear lap and set his best time of the session.
“Unfortunately for George, a car ahead ran wide and put some gravel on the track, which cost him enough time that he abandoned the lap. Fortunately, he had enjoyed a strong opening run and was able to set a good lap time early in the session.
“Conditions tomorrow could be a little mixed and this may give us an opportunity to benefit from the higher grid positions, which we will inherit after grid penalties are applied tonight.”