Dave Robson, the Head of Vehicle Performance at Williams Racing, admitted there was a little bit of frustration that George Russell was not able to advance into the top ten shootout in Qualifying for the Portuguese Grand Prix on Saturday.
But ultimately, there is confidence and delight in Russell qualifying eleventh, as it is his highest starting place in Williams colours, and it gives the team options when it comes to strategy on Sunday.
Robson admits getting tyres up to their best operating temperature was trickier on Saturday than it had been on Friday, but Russell was able to get his tyres to work when it mattered.
“Today was much more difficult than we expected, with the tyre requiring subtly different preparation than yesterday,” said Robson.
“Fortunately, after a tricky FP3, we got it right when it counted and having got into Q2 once again, George was able to hone the preparation ready for a final push lap, which he was able to execute brilliantly.
“We are a bit frustrated not to get into Q3, however, we are in a strong position for tomorrow as the first car with a new tyre to start the race.”
Unfortunately, on the other side of the garage, Nicholas Latifi was struggling for performance, and the Canadian was eliminated in Q1 and will start eighteenth on the grid.
Latifi’s pace on Friday had been poor in comparison to Russell, but he was much closer to his team-mate on Saturday, and he was unfortunate to be unable to set another flying lap late in the session due to traffic that could have made all the difference to whether he advanced into Q2 or not.
“Nicholas was very unfortunate in Q1 and having recovered very well from a difficult day yesterday to be sparring with George at the beginning of Q1, it was frustrating to see him miss out on a final push lap at the end of Q1,” said Robson.
“He was very good today and like in Imola, his mental strength was exemplary. We need to review what we could’ve done better to help him as he prepared for his final push lap, but when there is such a variety of tyre strategies playing out, it is very difficult to manage all of the traffic.”
Robson says the team can be pleased with their performance at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve on Saturday, and it is now up to them to come up with the strategy calls to enable both drivers to move forward on Sunday.
“We have had a good result today and off the back of a strong showing in Imola, this is very pleasing to see,” he said. “The Team are working well together and are enjoying putting pressure on our competitors.
“There is a long race ahead tomorrow, but we have got George into a very good position to continue the push to score points. Nicholas too, although further back than he would’ve liked, is in a position to make good progress during the race.”