Beating an Alfa in Brazil was a ‘big deal’ for Russell

Michelle Foster
George Russell leaves the Williams pits after a pit stop. Brazil November 2021

George Russell leaves the pits after making pit stop, Williams mechanics in the background. Brazil November 2021

Having been lapped by Alfa Romeo in Mexico, George Russell drew some comfort from beating Antonio Giovinazzi at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.

It was, however, still a point-less race for Williams.

After the highs of Hungary and Belgium, and more points in Italy and Russia, Williams are once again going through a dry spell.

The team recorded its fourth successive grand prix outside the top ten in Brazil on Sunday.

The only up side to the result being that Alfa Romeo, Williams’ closest competitor in the battle for P8 in the Constructors’ Championship, also didn’t score.

Russell was also happy that he managed to keep one of the Alfas, Giovinazzi, behind him.

“It was better than we expected,” he said of his Sao Paulo race.

“The first two stints were quite tough, we couldn’t make any progress on the opening few laps and struggled on the restart, but the final stint was good, and we managed to stay ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi.

“Being able to keep an Alfa Romeo behind is a pretty big deal for us as we just didn’t have the pace this weekend. P13 is not what we are aiming for as a team but, given the circumstances, I think it was a good result.”

Russell is hoping that part three of this year’s final triple-header, the Qatar Grand Prix, is a better one for Williams.

“I’m more optimistic heading to Qatar as I think the Losail International Circuit will suit the characteristics of our car more than the last two races,” he said, “so hopefully we can go there and can be faster next weekend.”

Dave Robson, Williams’ head of vehicle performance, admits the team just didn’t have the pace needed to finish inside the top ten with Nicholas Latifi behind his team-mate in 16th place.

He said: “Today was enjoyable, and although we ultimately lacked the pace to score a point, we put together a strong race in tricky circumstances.

“With multiple pit stops required, and several interventions from the Safety Car and the Virtual Safety Car, there was opportunity to win and lose time and it was important to manage the car through the interventions.

“We had a poor opening lap and so took an early opportunity to pit George and get him onto the more robust Hard tyre, on which he showed good pace, including a particularly strong final stint.

“Nicholas was less fortunate as the VSC cleared whilst he was in the pit lane, which put him a little further down the road than he would otherwise have been. However, in the free air, he was able to manage the car well and apply pressure to Tsunoda.

“Overall, today was a good workout for the whole team as we rarely get to do genuine multiple stop races these days. The addition of the (virtual) safety cars and the high track temperature made for a busy but interesting race.

“We didn’t get everything right, we could’ve done a little better with Nicholas’s first pit stop – however, we did a lot of things very well and learnt a lot in the process, which will help further our development as a strong race team.”


PlanetF1 Verdict

Russell's 'big deal' beating Alfa Romeo in Brazil

George Russell takes the positives from another point-less weekend for Williams.