Russell: Reaching Q3 like F1 pole position for Williams

George Russell says that reaching Q3 in Austria “felt like a pole position” for Williams after recording his best Formula 1 qualifying result with the team on Saturday.

Russell finished just eight thousandths of a second shy of a Q3 berth last Saturday at the Red Bull Ring, and was in the hunt for points in the race before a power unit issue forced him to retire.

But Russell showed few signs of the setback hurting him as he battled his way into Q3 for the first time in Williams colours, dumping Ferrari's Carlos Sainz out in the final stages of Q2. Russell sat ninth after the first runs in Q2, but a decision to move to the slower medium compound tyre did not prove costly as he still improved his time and made it through to Q3.

The Williams driver was able to qualify ninth, but looks set to gain at least one grid position as Sebastian Vettel is under investigation for blocking Fernando Alonso.

"It really felt like a pole position for us," Russell said in the Red Bull Ring paddock after qualifying. "Getting into Q3 is one thing, but doing so on the medium tyre is massive.

"We were obviously debating prior to the session in which order we do the Q2, whether it's the soft first followed by the medium, or vice-versa. But we were pretty adamant we didn't want to go in the top 10 on the softs.

"To manage to pull that off, almost feels like a pole position, and the most pumped up I've been since I last won a race, probably."

Read Also:

Russell's result is the first time since the 2018 Italian Grand Prix that Williams has been in Q3, with his only other appearance coming in his one-off outing for Mercedes in Sakhir last year, when he qualified second.

Williams will enter Sunday's race chasing its first points since Germany 2019, and with a real chance to try and overhaul both Haas and Alfa Romeo in the constructors' championship.

Russell was upbeat about the team's chances, believing the cars around him that are starting on the soft compound tyre may struggle more.

"If we did that last stint on the soft, it would have been really tricky, because like I said, we don't think we wanted to be on that soft," Russell said. "We're in an amazing position with the AlphaTauris ahead of us on the soft, [Lance] Stroll and probably Sebastian behind us on the softs too.

"We think that tyre is going to be disastrous in the race. It seemed like they know something we don't! Hopefully they don't. We've got flexibility to do as we wish with the strategy, whereas I think those guys are pretty locked in."

The performance from Russell came on the same day that Mercedes announced Lewis Hamilton would be remaining with the team for two more years.

Russell is now in a straight fight with Hamilton's current teammate, Valtteri Bottas, for the second Mercedes seat, having been part of its junior programme since 2017.

But Russell said the timing of his charge to Q3 in the context of Mercedes' driver decision was not something he was giving much thought.

"With regards to timing, it's not even playing on my mind," Russell said. "I'm just week in, week out, I just want to show what I can do to everybody and to myself, to Williams and Mercedes, and hopefully this just adds to that."

shares
comments

Related video

Vettel handed three-place F1 grid penalty for Austrian GP
Previous article

Vettel handed three-place F1 grid penalty for Austrian GP

Next article

Verstappen explains 'pretty bad' F1 pole position lap in Austria

Verstappen explains 'pretty bad' F1 pole position lap in Austria
Load comments
The factors that could negate Red Bull's practice gap to Mercedes Prime

The factors that could negate Red Bull's practice gap to Mercedes

Mercedes led the way in practice for Formula 1’s first race in Jeddah, where Red Bull was off the pace on both single-lap and long runs. But, if Max Verstappen can reverse the results on Saturday, factors familiar in motorsport’s main electric single-seater category could be decisive in another close battle with Lewis Hamilton...

Why Norris doesn’t expect Mr Nice Guy praise for much longer Prime

Why Norris doesn’t expect Mr Nice Guy praise for much longer

Earning praise from rivals has been a welcome sign that Lando Norris is becoming established among Formula 1's elite. But the McLaren driver is confident that his team's upward curve can put him in the mix to contend for titles in the future, when he's hoping the compliments will be replaced by being deemed an equal adversary

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2021
What Ferrari still needs to improve to return to F1 title contention Prime

What Ferrari still needs to improve to return to F1 title contention

After a disastrous 2020 in which it slumped to sixth in the F1 constructors' standings, Ferrari has rebounded strongly and is on course to finish third - despite regulations that forced it to carryover much of its forgettable SF1000 machine. Yet while it can be pleased with its improvement, there are still steps it must make if 2022 is to yield a return to winning ways

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2021
How F1 teams and personnel react in pressurised situations Prime

How F1 teams and personnel react in pressurised situations

OPINION: The pressure is firmly on Red Bull and Mercedes as Formula 1 2021 embarks on its final double-header. How the respective teams deal with that will be a crucial factor in deciding the outcome of the drivers' and constructors' championships, as Motorsport.com's technical consultant and ex-McLaren F1 engineer Tim Wright explains.

Formula 1
Dec 1, 2021
How getting sacked from Benetton made Mercedes' Allison Prime

How getting sacked from Benetton made Mercedes' Allison

He’s had a hand in world championship-winning Formula 1 cars for Benetton, Renault and Mercedes, and was also a cog in the Schumacher-Ferrari axis. Having recently ‘moved upstairs’ as Mercedes chief technical officer, James Allison tells Stuart Codling about his career path and why being axed by Benetton was one of the best things that ever happened to him.

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2021
The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback Prime

The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback

It’s easy to look at Robert Kubica’s second Formula 1 career and feel a sense of sadness that he didn’t reach the heights for which he seemed destined. But as Ben Anderson discovered, performance and results are almost meaningless in this context – something more fundamental and incredible happened…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2021
The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver for McLaren Prime

The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver for McLaren

From being lapped by his own teammate in Monaco to winning at Monza, it’s been a tumultuous first season at McLaren for Daniel Ricciardo. But, as he tells STUART CODLING, there’s more to the story of his turnaround than having a lovely summer holiday during Formula 1's summer break...

Formula 1
Nov 26, 2021
The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title Prime

The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title

As the battle continues to rage over the F1 2021 drivers' championship, teams up and down the grid are turning their attentions to the prize money attributed to each position in the constructors' standings. But F1's sliding scale rules governing wind tunnel and CFD use will soften the blow for those who miss out on the top places

Formula 1
Nov 25, 2021