George Russell: Spa qualifying best of the season

Williams’ George Russell said his showing in qualifying at the Belgian Grand Prix was his best of the year so far.

P15 may not be his highest starting spot of the season, but Russell came into the Belgian GP with very low expectations for the “draggy” FW43.

And despite struggling throughout practice Russell excelled in qualifying to make it into Q2 and secure P15 on the grid for the race.

He will start just behind the Ferraris, something in itself which the Briton can’t quite believe.

“They’ve been struggling all weekend and battling with them for spots on the grid was very unexpected,” he told reporters at the Belgian GP.

“Even for us to get into Q2, we knew on paper this is a circuit that doesn’t suit the characteristics of our car, it felt absolutely great and I was really pleased to get through to Q2.

“I have no idea [where the pace came from] to be honest.

“Even in FP3 I was 18th-slowest and struggling with the car, but it all just got hooked-up in qualifying.

“And it was exhilarating, probably one of the best qualifyings we’ve had all year to put it into perspective. And we’ve had some good ones so far.

“You can’t see but I’m grinning under this mask.”

There is a good chance of rain for Sunday’s race, so is Russell hoping for a wet Spa-Francorchamps?

“100%,” was his response.

“The reality is we won’t be going forward if it’s dry tomorrow, we have two Ferraris ahead of us for goodness sake.

“Hopefully the heavens open and we can capatalise on some mixed conditions.”

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Russell’s team-mate Nicholas Latifi will start from P19 and was very disappointed with how multiple things went against him, saying he would have definitely made Q2 without them.

“Q2 was there for the taking, we made a lot of changes overnight, it was feeling good enough in FP3, and really I think we just got unlucky on the second set [of tyres],” he said.

“With the yellow flags I had to lift on my last lap, I still improved, but I lifted so there was a few tenths there.

“Not sure why yet but exiting Turn 9 I started to experience a lot of power cuts and then it happened probably three of four times throughout the lap, each time the delta going up and up.

“Without those two things Q2 was there for the taking, no problem.”

But attention now turns to the race, and Latifi fancies his chances of competing with Ferrari.

“Definitely, I’m not sure whereabouts George was in Q1 in terms of relative pace to them but I think I could have matched George’s pace without those issues,” he said.

“So I think the qualifying pace was still there relative to them, which is surprising, but that’s more something for them to worry about, but for sure in the race we’ll be looking to fight the other cars.”

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