George Russell, Williams, Red Bull Ring, 2021

Rivals’ soft tyres will be “disastrous” at start of race – Russell

2021 Austrian Grand Prix

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George Russell’s confidence of turning his first Q3 appearance with Williams into a first points finish for the team since 2019 is boosted by the expectation his closest rivals will have “disastrous tyres” at the start of the race.

In the second segment of qualifying, Russell was able to join the pole contenders in making it into the top 10 while using the medium compound. Many of those around him on the grid will starting on the less durable soft tyre, which Russell thinks will play in his favour.

Speaking before the stewards confirmed Sebastian Vettel’s penalty, which promoted Russell to eighth on the grid, the Williams driver said starting the race on mediums will improve his chances significantly.

“If we did that last [Q2] stint on the soft, it would have been really tricky. We don’t think we wanted to be on that soft. So we’re in an amazing position with the AlphaTauris ahead of us on the soft, [Lance] Stroll and probably Sebastian behind us on the soft too.

“We think their tyres are going to be disastrous in the race. They seem like they know something we don’t. Hopefully they don’t, but we’ve got flexibility to do as we wish with the strategy whereas I think those guys are pretty locked in.”

Russell’s starting position gives him his best chance yet to deliver Williams’ first points since the 2019 German Grand Prix. He said that possibility won’t change his approach to the race.

“The mindset is always finish as high as possible,” said Russell. “Obviously we’re starting from a high position, but I guess we’ve just got to have a clean first lap because we are truly in a strong position and we should have a real pace advantage on the mediums.”

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Elliot Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching Photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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15 comments on “Rivals’ soft tyres will be “disastrous” at start of race – Russell”

  1. Dan Rooke (@geekzilla9000)
    4th July 2021, 9:39

    I’m so pleased to see Russell starting this race in such a high grid position and on the optimum tyre.

    George Russell fans must have no fingernails left, I had to leave the room for a moment last race when he retired after looking so strong.

    (Nailess) fingers crossed that Russell keeps it clean and doesn’t have bad luck. He can afford to lose a couple of places and still get a point, if he finishes where he starts though that will be epic.

    This could end up feeling feel like a victory weekend for Williams.

    1. Honestly after his pit stop, before he retired, he rejoined in the bottom, just before the other williams I think, his race was done already, retirement didn’t change much, however his pit stop was so slow to try and fix the problem that led to retirement.

  2. Please have a good, clean start!

  3. Two things GR has to overcome yet:
    -Bad starts
    -Bad luck

  4. An early safety car might make the soft runners box for hards, that’s probably their best bet. Also, Russell will still need to contend with both Ferraris likely starting on hards.

  5. One circuit on the calendar now has a scary pit lane design. At its first appearance 5 years ago, a person from Germany was right about it. Five years later, a person from Netherlands expressed his concerns.

  6. On paper it looks like Williams and Russell have the advantage here. But I think, even if the Alphas ruin their tires and pit early, it’s unlikely he will overcut them on pure pace. Although pitting early means potentially ending up in traffic.

    The biggest threat to a points finish will probably be the Ferraris, they start on the medium too and their pace last week was superior. Vettel will likely drop further back, but maybe Alonso will have a say for the last point too.

    1. even if the Alphas ruin their tires

      Anyone else wish that Alpha Tauri were still called Toro Rosso, so as not to get confused with Alfa Romeo? I had to read @d0senbrot ‘s post twice to confirm that they hadn’t just miss-spelled “Alfa”

      1. I wouldn’t mind and in any case I take the liberty to call alpine renault, alpha tauri toro rosso etc. whenever I want to make things simpler.

        In any case by context it was pretty obvious here he meant alpha tauri, considering how far back “saubers” are.

  7. Russell really deserves points now

    1. He could begin with a clean start. One of his weaknesses the last 5 races.

      1. If I recall, last race it was good, he didn’t lose positions, in fact gained.

  8. all this optimism has to pay off some time

  9. I so hope williams get a good haul of points this weekend, they really deserve it

  10. Us Williams fans deserve a good result…come on George!

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