‘First Williams points arguably greater achievement’

Michelle Foster
George Russell driving his Williams at the Hungarian GP. Hungary July 2021

George Russell takes part in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix. Missing out on a Q2 berth for the first time in 2021. Hungary July 2021

George Russell reckons his first points with Williams were “arguably the greater achievement” than his very first F1 points, scored with Mercedes in 2020.

Signed with Williams in 2019, it has been a long and difficult road towards the top ten but Russell finally achieved that at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

On a Sunday afternoon in which Williams capitalised on the chaos ahead of them, Russell brought his FW43B home in eighth place with his team-mate Nicholas Latifi P7.

Russell was in tears on the day and still find himself amazed by the achievement.

“I am a little bit lost for words,” he told Auto Motor und Sport. “My last stint was probably the best of my career. I fought like crazy to keep [Daniel] Ricciardo and [Max] Verstappen behind me.

“After a period of difficulties, three and a half years for the team and two and a half for me, I’m just happy for each and every one of them.”

The Budapest points weren’t Russell’s first as a Formula 1 driver with the Brit having scored at last year’s Sakhir Grand Prix when he raced for Mercedes.

Called up to replace Lewis Hamilton after he tested positive for Covid-19, Russell could have won the grand prix were it not for a day of botched pit stops from Mercedes. He finished P9.

Asked whether the Williams points were more valuable than his three with Mercedes, his says while the Mercedes points were scored in a difficult situation, a first outing with the team, his four with Williams are the bigger success.

“That [Sakhir 2020] was when I was thrown into the deep end,” he said. “The circumstances were incredibly difficult. But I knew I had the car to do something good. In my head, I immediately believed it.

“Now I know we have to get everything right, and even then, points are a bit out of reach. It feels like a win. Points with Williams are arguably the greater achievement.”

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With that being Russell’s only top ten finish with Williams in two and a half years, it begs the question: have Williams made a mistake with their design philosophy?

The FW43B, like its predecessor, is a car known for having a small operating window and when the wind blows, it all goes horribly wrong. The car also doesn’t like traffic.

Asked if Williams had made a mistake, Russell said: “What is right, what is wrong? If we had gone in a slightly different direction, it would have cost us some speed in qualifying. Example Silverstone: We qualified for eighth place on the grid. After the first lap, I was tenth.

“If we had developed in the other direction, we would have finished twelfth in qualifying and maybe eleventh after the start. So one position behind. As a driver, you want a car that won’t make you look stupid. You want one that is easy to drive. One that doesn’t encourage failure.

“At the moment we have a car that makes mistakes very easy. It is very easy to lock the wheels. You don’t want that as a driver. But if it’s fast, you accept it. We took a big step in performance.”