George Russell was literally in tears after finally sealing his first points as a Williams driver in Formula 1.
The Briton has actually scored points once before in the series, arriving at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix with Mercedes when he replaced the ill Lewis Hamilton, but until now a top-10 finish had cruelly eluded him in Williams colours.
But the chaos of the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix allowed that barren run to finally be broken, with Russell running as high as P2 at one stage after Valtteri Bottas, Sergio Perez, Max Verstappen, Lando Norris, Lance Stroll and Charles Leclerc were all caught up in crashes at Turn 1.
Ultimately it would be a double-points finish for Williams as Russell crossed the line P9 behind Nicholas Latifi in P8, and the Briton was moved to tears.
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The reaction was completely understandable after all that the Briton and Williams have been through in his pursuit of points, and once he had composed himself, Russell reflected on this career-defining moment.
“Mental, firstly just so happy and quite emotional to be honest because it just means so much more because the result today is three years of hard work,” he told Sky F1.
“Maybe we got lucky today, but there are many times that we haven’t got lucky and we truly deserve this.”
At the restart Russell decided to enter the pits and switch to dry tyres, as did every remaining driver except Hamilton who ended up taking the standing restart alone.
It was a very unfamiliar sight in Formula 1, and Russell said that switching to the dry rubber at that time was the obvious choice.
“For me it was a no-brainer,” he said.
“But I think the predicament Mercedes found themselves in, because they are the first pit box, if they box, every car is going to come down the pit lane and they can’t feed their way back into the pit lane.
“So no matter what they did, they arguably came out last.”
After 10 laps of the race Latifi was running in P3, and while down in P7, Russell told Williams to compromise his race if they needed to help his team-mate.
It is extremely rare for the driver to make such a suggestion, but Russell said it was absolutely necessary considering everything that was on the line for the team if they could score good points.
“For me it was clear, I know how much the points mean to the team,”he explained.
“We just need one good result out of 23 races, and if Nicholas could have came home in the top five that would have been enough to absolutely seal P8 in the Constructors’ Championship.
“And the prize money, what it means to the team, it’s huge as opposed to maybe he coming home in P8 and me coming home in P12.”
As it was though Russell joined his team-mate in the points, calling his second stint of the Hungarian Grand Prix the best of his career.
“That second stint was probably the best stint of my whole career, by a bit of a margin,” he confirmed.
“I was pushing so hard, keeping Danny Ric [Daniel Ricciardo] behind, then Max at the end. Okay he had a bit of damage, but still, we closed a 20-second gap at one point to the cars ahead, having been stuck behind Mick [Schumacher] for 10 laps or so.
“So that was a proper killer stint and that brought us home P9.
“Just overjoyed, so happy for Nicholas.”