Last Saturday, George Russell came within eighth thousandths of a second of a Q3 place; this week he made it. The Williams driver qualified ninth, but gains a spot because of Vettel's penalty.
MotorLat.com attended a media session with Williams' Head of Vehicle Performance, Dave Robson.
When asked about how he felt about today and the strategy in Q2 especially the switch between Russell's soft compound to medium compound. Russell had initially got in the top 10 on softs, but that would have been far from ideal with the degradation of the C5s. Ultimately his final lap on mediums booked him a Q3 slot.
Robson comments, "Good - very good, relieved. To the extent in the aspect that we struggled to match last week’s performance and i’m glad we were able to do that and better it. Everyone’s very happy that you could see at the end of Q2 what it meant to everyone especially the mechanics. We've got a lot of work to do and it’s all about tomorrow."
He continues, "Tough call and doesn’t feel like the right thing to do at the time but we desperately didn’t want to be 10th on the soft tyre. It’s a little bit tense to see if we backed off or not but it was good to see that we did alright. We backed off enough so we don’t start the race on the soft tyres."
In addition, "We were not completely confident obviously that was the first and only set of mediums ran today. We were pretty sure that the lap times between the two compounds today were going to be with the conditions. We were shocked to see other cars running on that option in Q1 which gave us a chance to recalibrate. George was a bit too quick for what we wanted in the softs in Q2 so we were a bit concerned and if he couldn’t better his time on the switch to mediums we were hopeful that other cars would do enough to knock him out"
When asked how the new regulation of pitstops affects the team moving forward. Robson says, "We can do 2-second pits in practice, but obviously, practice is different than the real race. And during practice it’s not the driver himself who’s reacting to the lights. It is humanly possible to change four tyres in 2-seconds but with the regulation changes, it doesn’t affect what we do.''
Robson concludes, "We’ll have to see if we were right to start on the soft tyre as well as seeing between two or three depending what happens to Vettel and cars ahead of us starting on that tyre compound will pit relatively early allowing us to hopefully move up. Based on the first stint George did last week we can definitely fight out there. We might be a bit ahead of the true pace of the cars and the pace of the quick cars behind us with the Ferrari’s especially last week doing a good job with not being on top of the qualifying. Overall there’s some sort of a ‘threat’ we can fight and with tyre combinations tomorrow, it would be quite fascinating everyone is going to have to be pretty sharp and on their game to make the most out of it and hopefully we’re one of those."