Williams: Latifi's strong Imola F1 form "disturbed" Russell

Williams believes Nicholas Latifi’s strong Formula 1 practice form “disturbed” George Russell ahead of Emilia Romagna Grand Prix qualifying, before he “chipped away” to join his teammate in Q2.

Williams: Latifi's strong Imola F1 form "disturbed" Russell
Listen to this article

Russell explained after qualifying that he had been “just confused” why Latifi had “had the upper hand on me every single lap” throughout practice and Q1, with the Briton trailing in each session except FP3.

In Q2, however, Russell reversed the Williams’ drivers fortunes to maintain his 100% qualifying record against teammates at the team – his only F1 qualifying defeat to a teammate being his loss against Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas when he stood in for Lewis Hamilton at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix.

Russell said “everything came alive, the car felt great” when the Williams drivers used a set of medium tyres for their first runs in Q2 – the first time the duo had reached the middle segment of qualifying together for the first time since the 2020 Hungarian GP – and he stayed ahead of Latifi when they switched back to the softs to seal 12th and 14th on the grid.

When asked by Motorsport.com what was behind Russell’s Q2 improvement, Williams’ head of vehicle performance, Dave Robson, said: “We know that he’s capable of pulling out a lap when it really counts, so I think there’s an element of that, [and] I think he was genuinely kind of surprised yesterday.

“Nicholas just came out of the blocks flying yesterday and was strong right from the start and I think perhaps that disturbed George a little bit and he’d got his head around that by this afternoon.

“To be fair to him, he’s just chipped away as the weekend has gone on – he just pulled out a good lap.”

Speaking about his pre-qualifying struggles, Russell said: “I came into this weekend thinking this could be our chance for Q3 and points.

“After every single session, I thought I'd be lucky to get out of Q1. Nicholas had the upper hand on me every single lap this whole weekend, I was just confused as to why.

Read Also:

George Russell, Williams FW43B

George Russell, Williams FW43B

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

“I thought I was driving well, the car felt good. And he was just quicker than me, a good three or four tenths every time, and even in Q1 I scraped through by the skin of my teeth.”

Russell’s initial jump on the mediums in Q2 led him to feel he “actually wanted to do my second set on the medium tyre” in that session as well, but Robson explained “I don't think we would ever have done that” as the team needed to keep the extra set of mediums for Sunday’s race.

Robson added: “We desperately want that new option for some flexibility tomorrow, particularly with the weather forecast as it is [high chance of rain showers].”

Robson also put Latifi’s strong form this weekend – he has taken his highest F1 grid spot, beating Alpine’s Fernando Alonso with an identical time the Canadian set first, so starts ahead – down to him being “mentally strong this weekend”.

“He's just been extremely good right from the moment he rolled out of the garage in P1,” Robson continued. “In terms of both the pace and his whole attitude and demeanour has been particularly good.

“He obviously had a little bit of a blip in P3 [when Latifi crashed at the Villeneuve chicane] and it didn't perturb him at all. And the fact he went straight back out, once we were happy with the car, he was still pretty much back on the pace straightaway

“I think having the car just consistent and behaving well all round the lap, I'm sure helps and plays a small part in that.

“But I think we also have to remember he was quick here in October. He does seem to be good here, as well as the car being good.

“But yeah, I think there was a bit more to it this weekend, not just that he's some sort of Imola specialist.

“I think, genuinely, he's driving well and in his whole attitude – and his mentality is really good.”

shares
comments

Related video

Mercedes: Tyre warm-up issue caused Bottas’ Q3 struggles
Previous article

Mercedes: Tyre warm-up issue caused Bottas’ Q3 struggles

Next article

F1 will keep Miami and Austin dates separate

F1 will keep Miami and Austin dates separate
Load comments
The underdog F1 squad that thrust Senna into the limelight Prime

The underdog F1 squad that thrust Senna into the limelight

The Toleman TG184 was the car that could, according to legend, have given Ayrton Senna his first F1 win but for Alain Prost and Jacky Ickx at Monaco in 1984. That could be stretching the boundaries of the truth a little, but as STUART CODLING explains, the team's greatest legacy was in giving the Brazilian prodigy passed over by bigger outfits an opportunity

Why Aston Martin is unlikely to repeat Jaguar’s F1 mistakes Prime

Why Aston Martin is unlikely to repeat Jaguar’s F1 mistakes

Two famous manufacturer teams born out of humble midfield origins, splashing the cash while attempting to rise to the top of F1 in record time. There are clear parallels between Lawrence Stroll’s Aston Martin and the doomed Jaguar Racing project of 22 years ago, but Mark Gallagher believes struggling Aston can avoid a similar fate.

Formula 1
May 15, 2022
How rejuvenated Haas recovered its F1 mojo Prime

How rejuvenated Haas recovered its F1 mojo

US-owned but until recently Russian-backed, Haas seems to have reached a turning point in car performance after three gruesome seasons. And it needs to if it’s to attract fresh investment. Team boss Gunther Steiner tells Oleg Karpov how close Haas came to the abyss.

Formula 1
May 14, 2022
How F1 race leaders have now lost their comfort blanket Prime

How F1 race leaders have now lost their comfort blanket

As Formula 1 teams have settled down in understanding the new generation of cars and the way they need to maximise their performance, fresh lessons have emerged. Jonathan Noble investigates how they have brought with them an all-new kind of grand prix racing

Formula 1
May 12, 2022
Gilles Villeneuve's 10 greatest F1 drives Prime

Gilles Villeneuve's 10 greatest F1 drives

Formula 1 lost one of its brightest stars when Gilles Villeneuve was killed during practice for the 1982 Belgian Grand Prix. Forty years on, Motorsport.com picks out the greatest drives by a Ferrari legend

Formula 1
May 11, 2022
The silver lining of Ferrari’s Miami GP defeat Prime

The silver lining of Ferrari’s Miami GP defeat

OPINION: Much was made of Formula 1’s first Miami Grand Prix – what turned out to be a very ‘marmite’ event for both those in attendance and everyone following on TV. But even as the on-track battle between Red Bull and Ferrari it produced continued the negative run of results for the red team, it contained a glimmer it must hope continues to shine

Formula 1
May 11, 2022
How imperfect Miami offered F1's drivers a unique challenge Prime

How imperfect Miami offered F1's drivers a unique challenge

OPINION: Despite all of the stylistic embellishments festooning Formula 1's inaugural Miami Grand Prix, the Miami International Autodrome offered the drivers a unique challenge and punished driver errors; a stark contrast to the usual cast of modern-day circuits

Formula 1
May 10, 2022
Why F1’s turbulent relationship with Russia is nothing new Prime

Why F1’s turbulent relationship with Russia is nothing new

Russia’s involvement in Formula 1 has been big on promise but short on delivery – then reached the end of the road prematurely. MARK GALLAGHER investigates why

Formula 1
May 10, 2022