George Russell, Williams, Spa-Francorchamps, 2021

Williams “put everything into one lap” for Russell to claim front-row start

2021 Belgian Grand Prix

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Williams team principal Jost Capito said George Russell’s astonishing run to second place in qualifying was the result of them deciding to put everything into a single flying lap.

“In Q3, we didn’t have anything to lose,” Capito told Sky. “Getting into Q3 is already a huge success for us.

“Then if you can do a strategy that you say ‘okay, you put everything into one lap’, you get it or you don’t. And with George knowing he can do it, George can put it in, even in these conditions, in one lap. And this is incredible for his performance as well.”

With Russell securing the team’s best starting position for four years, lining up for the race between championship contenders Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, Capito indicated Williams won’t play a conservative game on Sunday.

“We will analyse the weather situation and then just go for it,” he said. “But it’s too early to say because we never plan the strategy based on the qualifying result, of course. So now we’ve got some time to discuss that and find a good solution.

“But as I said before, it’s how it is with this weather. I say it’s better to smile in the rain than to cry in sunshine. So I like to do that.”

Russell’s qualifying performance did not escape the notice of Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, who has him under consideration for a potential promotion to the team. Wolff says that Mercedes’ junior driver’s performance “very impressive”.

“You need to put in such a lap and keep it on the track, and then it was a sniff away from pole position,” Wolff added. “So congratulations.”

Wolff’s two drivers will start behind Russell, who pushed Hamilton off the front row by 13 thousandths of a second. However the Mercedes boss remained tight-lipped over who Hamilton’s team mate next year will be.

“I think by now we we know where we stand and we know what we have, what [Russell] can do,” said Wolff. “And today just is another confirmation that he can drive.”

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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6 comments on “Williams “put everything into one lap” for Russell to claim front-row start”

  1. Isn’t that the general idea of qualifying, that is what every other team does, right?

    1. Not exactly, teams also have to consider weather conditions, etc for the race.

    2. F1oSaurus (@)
      29th August 2021, 0:12

      @cdfemke They normally set the car up as a compromise for best speed during quali vs best speed on heavy fuel load. Drivers like Lecclerc tend to focus more on quali pace and you see them do well in quali but then also usually drop back during the race. Or vice versa, drivers like Hamilton who focus somewhat more on race setup.

  2. Just suppose Toto has already renewed Bottas for next year and his other choice just qualified 2.5 seconds further up the road than him today. Awkward!

  3. The only way Russell isn’t in the Merc next year is if they’ve decided for some reason that he will replace Hamilton when he retires.

    Which will be an absolute waste of talent. I fully expect Russell to challenge Hamilton very closely if the two are paired.

  4. Williams need to be congratulated, and not just because of Russell’s front row. For Latifi to be 12th outqualifying a Ferrari, Alpine and Aston Martin is huge as well.

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