‘Mr Saturday’ George Russell delivered once again when it mattered at the Red Bull Ring, with the Briton only missing out on an appearance in Q3 by the narrowest of margins.
Just 0.008 seconds separated Russell and tenth-placed Lance Stroll, with Williams Racing coming so close to their first Q3 appearance since 2018.
Russell admits it was frustrating to get so close to Q3 as he did, although he will start tenth after Yuki Tsunoda was handed a three-place grid penalty for impeding Valtteri Bottas during Q2.
And with the team having been focusing on improving their race pace, the Briton goes into Sunday with confidence that he can fight for a top ten finish and his first points result as a Williams driver.
“I was pushing to my absolute limits in qualifying and the car really came alive when it mattered, so the lap felt really strong,” said Russell. “It’s frustrating when we were so close to Q3, eight thousandths of a second really is nothing, but we’ll have tyre choice in P11 tomorrow so that’s a good place to be.
“The team is putting a lot of effort into race pace at the moment, so to still get a great result on Saturday is very pleasing. We’re here on merit today; we did a good job and the car is feeling strong.
“There’s no reason why we can’t keep the others behind us tomorrow, I’m not looking in my mirrors, I’m looking forward, and I want to get inside that top ten.”
“It’s frustrating to miss out on Q2 by such a small margin” – Nicholas Latifi
Team-mate Nicholas Latifi was also frustrated after finding himself on the wrong side of the cut-off point in Q1, despite being less than seven-tenths of a second behind the best time of the session.
Just 0.033 seconds separated Latifi from beating McLaren F1 Team’s Daniel Ricciardo in Q1, but ultimately his best time was not good enough to get into Q2, with traffic costing him the chance of improving on his final run.
“Yesterday I wasn’t feeling very confident, but we’ve made a lot of progress coming into today and the car improved quite a bit,” said Latifi. “It’s frustrating to miss out on Q2 by such a small margin, but my second lap was a very competitive one, so I was happy with that.
“During my final run I lost some time in the last sector coming up behind traffic; that can block your line of sight going into such high-speed corners, so I got a bit out of shape there. Overall, a frustrating result, but there are a lot of positives to take into the race tomorrow.”