Formula 1

George Russell: “I have to go away and learn from this and come back stronger”

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Credit: Williams Racing

George Russell’s wait for his first point in Formula 1 goes on, but his self-inflicted retirement from the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix will be the most painful for him as he was on course for the top ten.

The Williams Racing driver, who was confirmed to remain with the team in 2021 prior to the weekend, had been promoted into the top ten when the safety car was deployed to recover the stranded car of Max Verstappen from the gravel trap at turn five.

However, it was not to be for the Briton, with a mistake behind the safety car pitching him into the wall and out of the race.  He was obviously downbeat following the mistake, but he knows he will need to put it behind him and come back as a stronger driver.

“I was pushing as hard as I could from lap one, the most aggressive I have ever been,” said Russell.  “I knew that with the guys behind me on the new tyres and myself on the old tyres, I had to be super aggressive to be in with the chance of getting a point.

“I came out of the corner and the tyres were too cold and I just lost the car, and I was already in the wall. It is absolutely gutting, and I am really sorry to the team. We were having an amazing race up until then, we were pushing really hard every lap and the pace was good.

“There are no excuses, I have to go away and learn from this and come back stronger next time.”

Latifi Encouraged with Overall Pace at Imola Despite Missing Out on Top Ten

Team-mate Nicholas Latifi did see the chequered flag, with the Canadian ending the day in eleventh in what was the closest he has got to the points so far in his short Formula 1 career.

Latifi also had a strong afternoon and was pressurising Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN’s Antonio Giovinazzi towards the end, but he was unable to get close enough to try to pass the Italian.  It was the third time in 2020 that he has finished eleventh.

“It was a strong race for me today, especially off the back of a really tough weekend in Portugal,” said Latifi.  “We ran really long in the first stint aiming to have a tyre life advantage at the end.

“It seemed that the prime tyre was not a great race tyre in terms of how much grip it was giving, and I didn’t really feel any quicker on it. I hoped to capitalise on the second stint but my restart after the safety car was poor. Antonio (Giovinazzi) made a mistake in the chicane on the last lap which gave me DRS.

“We seemed to have a pretty decent straight-line speed advantage compared to the Alfa Romeos this weekend, so with one more lap maybe I could have got past him for tenth. It is a bit disappointing, but the overall pace today was encouraging.”

“We are very disappointed with the result” – Dave Robson

Dave Robson, the Head of Vehicle Performance at Williams, said there was disappointment within the team that they were unable to take their first top ten finish of 2020, with the late safety car having given them a sniff of a points result at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari.

Russell’s unfortunate mistake means Williams continue to hold last place in the Constructors’ Championship with only four races of the season remaining, with the Briton and his Canadian team-mate Latifi still seeking their first points of their Formula 1 careers.

Robson felt Williams showed an improved performance level at Imola but despite this, it was still not enough to take a top ten finish, and they will now regroup ahead of the final four races of the season, which start with the Turkish Grand Prix in two weeks time.

“We need to get home and unpick what happened today,” said Robson after Sunday’s race.  “After a good performance yesterday and a decent first lap, we were well placed.

“We opted to pit George early to attack the cars ahead and this allowed us to undercut [Esteban] Ocon. With Nicholas, we decided to leave him on a longer stint on the Medium tyre whilst we allowed the race to unfold and waited for an opportunity. Once [Sergio] Pérez got close, we brought him in before we lost time.

“The late safety car caused some chaos in the final laps, bunching the pack back up and allowing several cars to make cheap pitstops for fresh tyres. George stayed out and held track position but unfortunately lost control of the car whilst trying to keep his tyres hot.

“This extended the safety car period further and once Albon went off, elevated Nicholas to his third eleventh place finish of the season. He came very close to beating Giovinazzi for the final point scoring position whilst also mounting a robust defence with the Haas. Unfortunately, the race was one lap too short for Nicholas to score the final point.

“Overall, we are very disappointed with the result as we worked extremely well and effectively throughout this weekend and have shown good pace in both qualifying and race trim. Considering how much track time Nicholas lost on Saturday morning, he has had an excellent weekend and showed very good pace and race-craft today.

“George will be very disappointed with today’s result, but he had good pace and was able to race competitively with the midfield for much of the race. It has been a tiring but rewarding couple of weeks during which we have raced at some superb venues.

“We will now head home, regroup and prepare for the final races of the season.”

Nicholas Latifi finished eleventh for a third time in 2020 at Imola – Credit: Williams Racing
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