Russell denies all Williams’ focus is on qualifying

Michelle Foster
George Russell in front of Alpine AlphaTauri

George Russell in front of Alpine AlphaTauri

George Russell, twice into Q3 but yet to score, has denied that Williams are focusing on qualifying, saying “everything” is on the race.

Mr. Saturday became Mr. Friday at Silverstone as Russell booked his second successive Q3 berth in Friday night’s qualifying for the British Grand Prix’s sprint qualifying.

Eighth quickest in qualifying, Russell brought his FW43B home in ninth place in the 17-lap sprint qualifying dash.

Unfortunately for the driver and Williams, only the top-three score points in sprint qualifying.

Even more unfortunate, Russell was slapped with a three-place grid penalty for an incident with Carlos Sainz, lining up 12th for Sunday’s grand prix.

He finished P12, once again score-less for Williams.

It has raised questions about whether Williams are putting too much attention on their qualifying form, and not enough on the race.

Russell has denied this.

“We’re not focusing on qualifying, we’re focusing everything onto the race,” he told The Race.

“I don’t know if it’s that we improve or the others make mistakes.

“When it’s one single lap and the pressure’s on, a one-tenth or two-tenth mistake makes the difference.

“Whereas in a race, you get into a groove, you get into a rhythm, you find the limit over the course of a few laps and then you can make hay.

“We just seemed to do a really good job [in qualifying], do everything right with getting the tyres in the window, with the positioning on track, and I feel confident in the car in that situation. And I think between us all we do a better job than most.”

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The Brit, linked to a move to Mercedes in 2022, conceded that P12 in a grand prix is a “fair result” for the car that he is driving.

“We would have taken P12 before the weekend, I think that’s a sort of fair result and we probably didn’t deserve to be any higher than that,” Russell said.

“It always seems to be the case that we’re going backwards on a Sunday. I don’t think it’s because we’re doing a bad job on a Sunday.

“I think it’s because we’re somehow doing an excellent job in qualifying. So that’s a little bit tricky.”

He added: “I think the guys behind were 0.3-0.5s quicker than us, and when you’re on that sort of pace advantage it’s basically easy, and they were better on tyres than us as well.

“So it was always going to be a race of sort of looking in the mirrors and trying to keep other cars at bay.”