During George Russell’s F1 career with Williams Racing to date, there had been more than one occasion where due to his superb qualifying the British racer had been hopeful for points come race day. However, in Williams Racing colours, a haul of points never materialized. Such an outcome resulted from an uncharacteristic error; lack of car performance or good old fashioned bad luck. Therefore, having seen George Russell and his teammate Nicholas Latifi qualify 17th and 18th respectively for the Hungarian Grand Prix, only the most optimistic Williams’ fan would have predicted points for the famous F1 constructor. Nevertheless, points is what they achieved and what followed was a flood of emotion from George Russell.
After a most surreal Hungarian Grand Prix, Nicholas Latifi finished 8th and George Russell came home in 9th. Or at least that is what the positions were before a disqualification for Sebastian Vettel saw a promotion for the pair to 7th and 8th.
Chaotic. Emotional. Unexpected. Such terms don’t even do Sunday’s Grand Prix justice.
“I literally shed a tear earlier, I don’t know literally where it came from; it all just came flooding out,” George Russell said on the F1 TV Post-Race Show. “It does mean so much more than just scoring points. When you’ve been fighting for this for so long, at one point you just think: is it ever going to happen?
Only the most optimistic George Russell fan would have expected ‘it to happen’ this past Sunday – but happen it did!
Qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix, as far as Williams Racing was concerned, was surely an event to forget. Saturday’s qualifying was the first time this season that George Russell – so aptly named ‘Mr Saturday’ – had not progressed to Q2. However, as the young British talent said, ‘we can’t get it right every time.’ The reason for George Russell’s qualifying performance, by his own admission was:
“I didn’t have the confidence in the car today for whatever reason and the lap just didn’t come together for me.”
Qualifying may not have come together for Russell but the race certainly did. The Briton’s post qualifying comments showed exactly what the team was hoping for on Sunday:
“It is going to be a difficult race as it is so hot here and the tyres are going to be really tricky to manage. Hopefully we can do a better job than the others and capitalise on any opportunities.”
Capitalise, is exactly what Williams Racing did shortly after the lights went out - for the first time - on Sunday.
Due to the chaos in front, caused by the catalyst Valtteri Bottas wiping out a quarter of the field after late braking into Turn On, Williams Racing was in the points by the end of lap one. George Russell and Nicholas Latifi had been quick off the line and by staying free from harm found themselves much higher up the field. The Canadian racer made up 12 places to P6 and his teammate George Russell had an equally bright start sitting in P8 having come from 17th.
As a result of debris caused by Bottas’ unfortunate error, the red flag was quickly shown and the drivers returned to the pits ready for a standing start. However, due to the time taken for the restart, the track was considerably drier as the field took to their second formation lap of the day. Therefore as opposed to lining up on the grid, both Williams Racing drivers chose to change from the intermediate compound to the medium tyre - ahead of the restart.
This was a decision taken by every other driver except for seven-time Drivers’ F1 Champion Lewis Hamilton who sat as a solitary figure on the grid ready for the race to commence once more. A race which no one could have predicted.
Due to the fact that the Hungaroring is a challenging track to overtake on, track position was key and so was long running. Therefore, when Nicholas Latifi and George Russell stopped once again for the hard Pirelli tyre (lap 21 for and lap 23 respectively) they proved a real handful and retained the majority of their places to the despair of Max Verstappen who could not find a way past in his battle-damaged RB16B.
As a result of Esteban Ocon claiming his maiden F1 race victory in the most improbable circumstances, comparisons were inevitably made with Pierre Gasly’s own maiden F1 victory at Monza last year. However, you have to then go a further 2 years back to the 2018 Italian Grand Prix to find Williams’ first double points finish – such is the fortune they have had in recent years.
George Russell spoke to the media afterwards to share just how hard he had worked for his historic haul of points.
“My final stint was probably the best of my whole career as I was fighting like crazy, fending off Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen. I’m just so pleased for everyone because it’s been a big slog over the last two-and-a-half years for me, and three-and-a-half years for the team, so these points are really deserved. Really well done to Nicholas too, he made an amazing start and drove a really great race. Finishing eighth and ninth, we couldn’t really have done much more today.”
In reality Williams Racing did achieve more following the later disqualification to Sebastian Vettel for a fuel sample infringement. Nevertheless, whether Williams Racing retains 7th and 8th or reverts back to 8th and 9th - following the outcome of Aston Martin’s appeal - this result is the springboard that the team needed.
The FW43-B has shown this season to be a handy car on track competing with the midfield at times and the talent within the ranks has set them in good stead for the remainder of the year.
“I truly believe we deserve to be in P8 in the constructors’ championship; I think we’ve done a better job than Haas and Alfa this year.” stated George Russell after Sunday’s historic Hungarian Grand Prix.
Next up, a well-deserved summer shutdown but after that…well would be foolish enough to guess.
George Russell’s emotional tear-filled interview after Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix has already gone viral and so it is only fitting he has the closing remarks:
“I’m so happy for everyone and I’m a bit lost for words. It was an incredible race.”