George Russell made in into the second phase of Qualifying for the third consecutive round on Saturday, but a five-place grid penalty will see him start from the very back of the grid for his home Grand Prix.
The Williams Racing driver advanced into Q2 after a stunning performance in the opening segment of Qualifying at Silverstone, although he was handed a penalty after the session for failing to slow down under yellow flags, which ironically were caused by a spin by team-mate Nicholas Latifi.
As a result, the grid drop will see him start twentieth and last, meaning his performance in Qualifying was all for nothing, even though the performance of the FW43 continues to be strong on Saturdays.
“We have got to be pleased with our performance,” said Russell prior to the penalty being handed out. “It is three races in a row now we have been faster on Saturday and slower on Sunday, and so we tried to set the car up more for Sunday, so I was quite surprised with the performance we had today.
“The car felt great it was really fun driving around the track. Once we made it to Q2 we always want more, but our realistic goal was to out qualify the Haas and the Alfa, because the next team, AlphaTauri were just too far ahead.
“I was pleased with the job I did, and we will see what happens tomorrow.”
Latifi ‘Disappointed’ after Spin Ends Chances of Advancing into Q2
Team-mate Latifi felt disappointed in himself after the spin prevented him from attacking in the closing moments to get out of Q1 himself, with the incident meaning he ended up slowest of everyone on Saturday.
The Canadian admitted he was too greedy on the throttle exiting Luffield, meaning the car spun around on him and into the gravel trap. He was able to resume but his session was all-but-over as a result.
Latifi was aiming to make Q2 for a second time having achieved the feat for the first time last time out in Hungary, and he was pleasantly surprised by the pace of the car on a track much different to that of the Hungaroring.
“We made a big reset with the car overnight to be more competitive,” said Latifi. “The car was feeling much better and I had a lot more confidence.
“I am very disappointed with myself and the mistake I made on my final lap. I got too greedy on the throttle, and just spun the car around. I think if I had actually done the lap, I probably could have done a lap good enough for Q2 that George showed was possible.
“We had some doubts coming into this weekend about the potential of the car in qualifying relative to how it was in Budapest. So it shows that the gains still carry over to a track like this. There are some positive signs, I am just a bit frustrated from my side of the garage.”
Robson Disagrees with Stewards Decision over Russell’s Penalty
Dave Robson, the Head of Vehicle Performance at Williams, was pleased that the car was performing at a higher level on Saturday than it was on Friday, and it was good to see the team challenging once more to get out of Q1.
“The pace of the car today was quite good and confirmed that we did a good job yesterday and overnight,” said Robson. “After FP3 both drivers felt that the car had improved since Friday and were looking forward to qualifying.”
Robson did not believe that Russell deserved the penalty handed out to him by the stewards, feeling he did slow down under the yellow flags as Latifi recovered to the track.
“The gusty conditions this afternoon made driving a little difficult and unfortunately Nicholas succumbed to the wind on his final timed lap,” said Robson. “The resulting yellow flag forced George to slow down and lose time on a rapidly evolving track.
“His time was still good enough to qualify for Q2 for the third race in a row, but unfortunately the stewards considered that he did not react appropriately to the yellow flag and consequently has been awarded a five-place grid penalty for tomorrow’s race.
“Whatever happens tomorrow, both drivers did well today with Nicholas quickly adapting to the test items that George looked at yesterday, and George showing strong pace throughout the day.
“The pace of the car continues to improve and our ability to adapt the set-up from the high downforce demands of Hungary to the high efficiency of Silverstone bodes well for the rest of the season, especially when we look forward to the next triple-header which begins in Spa in a few weeks’ time.“