Palmer: Russell Spa lap possibly among best of all time

Finley Crebolder
George Russell celebrates. Belgium August 2021

Williams driver George Russell celebrates after qualifying P2 for the Belgian Grand Prix. Belgium August 2021

Jolyon Palmer believes that George Russell’s qualifying lap at Spa is possibly one of the best the sport has ever seen.

Russell, nicknamed Mr Saturday, is renowned for being a good qualifier, but even by his lofty standards, his lap in Belgium was simply stunning.

Ina car that his team told him was the 17th fastest on the grid, the Williams man so nearly took his first-ever pole position, going narrowly slower than Max Verstappen and faster than everyone else to secure a front-row start.

His efforts were applauded throughout the paddock afterwards, with his team principal Jost Capito calling the lap “incredible” and Toto Wolff saying it was “very impressive” stuff.

Former F1 driver Palmer was so impressed in fact, that he thinks it was right up there with the best F1 laps of all time.

“The one real standout from Q3 was George Russell, with one of the Formula 1 laps, possibly of all time. It was an absolute stunner,” he said on the official F1 YouTube channel.

“It’s a terrific lap, out-qualifying Lewis Hamilton for provisional pole position, only being beaten by Max’s lap just a little bit later.

“What a performance. The Williams, undoubtedly, [is] not a bad car in those conditions, when you look at Nicholas Latifi as well, qualifying twelfth, out-qualifying a Ferrari.

“The Williams was okay, but that Russell lap out of nowhere in Q3 [to] suddenly be fighting for pole position, was sensational.”

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The lap proved to be even more important than it first seemed for Russell as with next to no racing taking place on Sunday due to the wet weather, it ultimately earned him his first-ever podium finish.

He admitted after the “race” though that it wasn’t how he wanted to get his first.

“Obviously not the way I’d have liked to have scored my first podium,” he said.

“A little bit of a strange feeling achieving it in this way but at the end of the day we’ve been rewarded for such a fantastic job yesterday [in qualifying].”

It looks likely that it’ll be the first of many top-three finishes for the Brit with him reportedly set to replace Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes next season, with the Finn taking the place of his compatriot, Kimi Raikkonen, at Alfa Romeo, following confirmation that the Iceman is to retire at the end of the year.