The 22-year-old Briton is now 30-0 compared to Robert Kubica and Nicholas Latifi, but it was nearly 29-1 at the Tuscan Grand Prix as he ended up with just 0.088sec to spare over his colleague in Q1.
The reason was that Russell ran wide at Savelli into the gravel, scattering the stones and costing him the chance to make another Q2 appearance in what has been a productive qualifying season.
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Instead, he and Latifi will start P18 and P19 respectively – and the King’s Lynn-born driver had been forced to sit out FP3 with a brake problem, so was short of running going into qualifying.
Russell admitted the ‘moment’ had made all the difference between his eventual grid position and a top-15 placing.
“Definitely, the lap was absolutely on it until that point,” he said. “The car felt great, it was only my third lap today and I put everything on the line.
“Nicholas was ahead of me in the first two runs and I knew if I didn’t put everything together for that lap he could have outqualified me and I thought I threw it away.
“I damaged the car with that ‘off’ – the rear floor was hanging about a little bit. It would have been a great way to reward the boys, they deserved it after all the work they did preparing the car after FP3.
“But nevertheless, considering it was only my third lap today I think it was a good job.”
Russell also revealed that a radical change to the downforce level is giving him high hopes of being competitive in the race, a week after Latifi only just missed out on a points-paying finish at Monza where he ended up in P11.
“We made a massive set-up change that we planned to test in FP3 when we did no laps,” explained Russell.
“I was convinced that was the way to go, so we kept it for qualifying but the car was very different, which took me a bit of time to get used to.
“But I think it will favour us in the race, so I’m glad we stuck with our gut and rolled the dice.”
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