George Russell secured Williams Racing’s first appearance in Q3 since the 2018 Italian Grand Prix on Saturday afternoon, with the Briton feeling the performance of the FW43B at the Red Bull Ring was on another level compared to normal.
The Mercedes-Benz protégé has been dubbed ‘Mr Saturday’ for a while now thanks to his superb performances in Qualifying, but Qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix saw him make another step up as he made it into the top ten shootout for the first time as a Williams driver.
Russell qualified ninth but will move up to eighth on the grid thanks to a penalty for Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team’s Sebastian Vettel, and even more remarkable, he will start the race on the medium Pirelli tyre after getting through Q2 on that compound.
“Qualifying was pretty special; we usually do well on Saturdays but that was on another level,” said Russell. “I had a lot of confidence in the car, which really helped when it came to nailing my Q3 lap with only one shot.
“P9 in any circumstances is a great place to be, but starting on the mediums with a few cars ahead on the soft tyres puts us in a strong position for the race and hopefully gives us a real advantage when it comes to making strategy decisions.
“I’m really pleased for the whole team; we’ve managed to keep the momentum going and this is thoroughly deserved after the struggles of last Sunday. I’m very excited for tomorrow.”
“I am struggling to get the balance right this weekend” – Nicholas Latifi
Team-mate Nicholas Latifi had a more low-key session, with the Canadian failing to escape Q1 for the eighth time in nine attempts.
Latifi admitted post-session that he has been struggling to find the right balance with his car this weekend at the Red Bull Ring, while mistakes during his second run in Qualifying at turn three did not help his cause.
“It was a different challenge this weekend for everybody with softer tyres, but I am struggling to get the balance right this weekend and the car dialled in,” said Latifi.
“The first run wasn’t so bad, but the second run I made a mistake in the hairpin of turn three and missed the corner. I got it wrong this time and lost so much time as a result, so obviously very frustrated.”