Russell ‘did a Maldonado’ in Portimao battle

Jon Wilde
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George Russell revealed he had a ‘Pastor Maldonado moment’ while battling with rivals on his way to finishing 14th in the Portuguese Grand Prix.

The Briton was referring to a Williams predecessor, who gave the team their most recent victory in Spain eight years ago.

But it was not the Barcelona win to which Russell was referring. Instead, he meant an incident in the 2015 Austrian Grand Prix when the Venezuelan was trying to overtake Max Verstappen’s Toro Rosso and experienced a big oversteer moment which saw him wrestling with the steering wheel as he tried not to lose the rear end of his Lotus.

“It was a good race,” said Russell, whose P14 was exactly the same position in which he had started at the Algarve International Circuit in the hills just outside Portimao.

“The car felt great, the pace was good. I had some massive moments in behind Esteban Ocon when I was trying to overtake him and Alex Albon, and another behind Antonio Giovinazzi later in the race when I tried overtaking him into turn three.

“It was like Pastor Maldonado at the Red Bull Ring, was it, with Max Verstappen where he massively lost it? I felt a bit like Maldonado then, so that’s something I wasn’t expecting to say after this race!”

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Although he was happy with his car’s performance, Russell rued that a comparatively strong afternoon for Williams came in a less attritional race than usual. There was only one retirement, that of Lance Stroll’s Racing Point.

“It’s just bloody typical that every time we have a good result there’s not this crazy, chaotic race,” said Russell, whose team-mate Nicholas Latifi finished 18th.

“We’ve yet to score a point this year, but the races in which we do great – Silverstone we finished 12th, another race [Mugello] we finished 11th – today we finished 14th but 19 people finished and you don’t have five retirements of drivers who were in the top 10. It will come [a points finish] but plenty of positives to take.”

Latifi, however, found it more difficult to draw the positives, saying: “The beginning of the race was tricky conditions for everyone but I felt more on the pace of everyone else.

“Then lap by lap everything was just slipping away a bit. I don’t really have an explanation for the lack of pace, it was just really tricky out there with the wind.”

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