George Russell thought he had got “the maximum” achievement possible with a Q2 appearance at the Monaco Grand Prix – the Williams team’s 750th F1 race.
We have come to fully expect seeing ‘Mr Saturday’ in the second part of qualifying and the next target for Russell is naturally to make it through to Q3 for the first time in a Williams.
He got especially close to doing so in Portugal two races ago, starting 11th, but on the Monte Carlo streets 15th was all the Briton could accomplish at a venue that exposed his car’s “weakness”.
With Charles Leclerc capturing a shock pole position for Ferrari, and several drivers all targeting top spot in a refreshingly open Q3 shootout, Russell acknowledged this qualifying session had produced some unexpected outcomes.
“Before the weekend we were hoping for Q3, but as soon as we got on track we recognised the Alfa Romeos, who are our normal rival, they are always very quick in these slow-speed corners – similar to Ferrari, actually. They were just a big step ahead of us,” Russell told reporters post-qualifying.
“So that [Q3] wasn’t possible. We outqualified an AlphaTauri [Yuki Tsunoda] who’s normally very quick, and Fernando Alonso, so I think that was the maximum today.
“Even Haas, they were really strong – this was one of their best qualifying results of the year in 2019.
“This was the maximum. We know our weakness and this is one of them.”
Pushing these cars to the limit around this track is just awesome.
Happy with the job we did today and definitely had some fun out there! pic.twitter.com/f79HJV6FEF
— George Russell (@GeorgeRussell63) May 22, 2021
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Despite Monaco being a notoriously difficult circuit to overtake on, and the prospect of a procession through the midfield in particular, Russell is looking forward to pitting his wits against his rivals in a race likely to last for an hour-and-three-quarters.
“This was one of my favourite races of 2019,” said the 23-year-old of the first grand prix that had to be cancelled in 2020 due to the health pandemic to have been successfully restored to the Formula 1 schedule.
“It’s exhilarating around here and pushing these F1 cars to the limit around these tracks is so exciting, so I’m looking forward to 78 laps of it. It should be good.”