George Russell secured his best Qualifying result of his Williams Racing career to date on Saturday, with the Briton set to start the Portuguese Grand Prix from a respectable eleventh place on the grid.
The Briton admitted that he was not expecting to make it into Q2 in Qualifying after a relatively poor showing in final practice left him a lowly seventeenth. It left both him and the team scratching their heads, particularly after impressing on Friday.
But when it mattered, Russell was able to pull a lap time out of the bag that was less than a tenth of a second away from making it into Q3 for the second time in his career, having done so previously in his one-off outing with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team in last year’s Sakhir Grand Prix.
“It was a great performance from us,” said Russell. “I did not expect Q2 after this morning, yet alone P11 on the grid. We made it happen when it counted which seems to be the theme at the moment.
“It’s our best qualifying position in three years so I’m really proud. We all have our responsibilities, and as a team we did a really good job.”
Russell hopes he will be able to continue the positive momentum and break into the points on Sunday afternoon at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve, and he feels he has the car to do just that.
“Tomorrow we’ve got to keep moving forward,” said the Briton. “We have a good race car – it’s fast on the straights, so let’s see what we can do.”
“It was a bit of a frustrating day” – Nicholas Latifi
Team-mate Nicholas Latifi was less impressive in Qualifying, with the Canadian finding himself eliminated in Q1. He will start eighteenth, ahead only of the two Uralkali Haas F1 Team drivers.
Despite the disappointment of his early elimination, Latifi was happier with the performance of his car on Saturday than he had been earlier in the weekend, but he still went into the session with balance issues that ultimately meant he did not have the pace to challenge for Q2.
“Today was an improvement as we made some big changes overnight,” said Latifi. “However, it wasn’t the best qualifying for us, and I wasn’t able to get a clean lap at the end of Q1.
“I am still struggling with the car balance along with the track surface, as everyone is sliding around. It was a bit of a frustrating day, but the race is tomorrow, and we must focus on that.”