Russell eyeing podium with ‘slippery’ Williams

Date published: September 25 2021 - Jamie Woodhouse

A George Russell fist pump as he qualifies P3. Russia, September 2021.

George Russell believes Williams have the pace in a straight line to harbour hopes of making the podium at Sochi.

Taking advantage of a drying track, Russell was one of the drivers to benefit from a two-lap dash on soft tyres right at the end of Q3, putting his Williams P3 on the grid for the Russian Grand Prix.

He will share the second row with his future team-mate Lewis Hamilton, behind first-time pole-sitter Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz.

While further rain cannot be ruled out for the race, the strongest indications are for a dry Russian Grand Prix which, in theory, would make it difficult for Russell to hold position.

However, Sochi is a track where pace down the straights is key, and Russell sees that as a strength for Williams with a Mercedes power unit in the back.

And so the Briton feels a podium is achievable.

“In practice our high-fuel pace was one of our best of the year,” Russell revealed.

“I think it’s still a long way behind these guys [Sainz and Norris] and the Mercedes, who are starting behind us, so we’ll have a battle on our hands.

“But we are pretty slippery in the straights, we’ve some nice straight-line speed, so we are going for the podium again – we have nothing to lose.”

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This has developed into a sensational season for Russell, who at the very least will be in with a strong shout of points for the fourth time in five races.

Russia is also the second time within the last four events Russell has qualified within the top three, having claimed P2 on the grid in Belgium, later finishing the race in that position after heavy rain forced it to be called off after a couple of laps behind the Safety Car.

 

“It’s crazy, it’s the second time we are in the top three in four events,” Russell continued.

“The team have done an amazing job again, pitting at the right time, putting the right tyres on.

“It was tricky out there. There was one dry line and if you’re just a couple of centimetres too wide, you would have been on the wet stuff and you would have been off.

“Well done to Lando and Carlos. [I’m] excited for tomorrow!”