Williams Racing’s George Russell sampled his third consecutive Q2 appearance at an eerily empty Silverstone for this weekend’s British Grand Prix, cementing his place in the top 15 fastest cars on in the field – a mighty leap from 2019 where both he and team-mate Robert Kubica were largely rooted to the very back of the grid.
However, as if to gently remind both he and the team that there is much more work to be done he was nudged to the back of the grid for Sunday’s race as the BGP stewards deemed him not to have lifted for yellow flags waving at Luffield, ironically, for a spin by team-mate Latifi that ended the Canadian’s own participation in qualifying.
From their P18 and P20 qualifying berths, the Williams drivers pegged the back of the midfield, negotiating a brace of safety cars triggered by K-Mag & Red Bull’s Albon tangling, and then a nasty crash by Kvyat, before Russell was able to jump Alfa’s Kimi Raikkonen after the second restart, Latifi following suit a few laps later with a lovely move around the outside at Stowe.
Towards the end of the race, attrition started to kick in and Russell was able to nab a couple of positions, eventually bringing his FW43 home in 12th, with Latifi in 15th.
On paper, this might not seem particularly impressive, however, Williams’ all-round race pace was much more aligned to the speed they’ve shown in qualifying over the last three rounds – the first time either driver has been able to carry any meaningful pace into a Grand Prix this season.
This could very well be the key to unlocking some decent points for Williams, once all the pieces – qualifying position, race pace, sound strategy and driver performance – fall in place together, and yet more significant progress for the Grove squad.
“This was the first race where we have been pretty fast, and our Sunday pace matched our Saturday, so that is positive. We have put a lot of effort in to focus on our pace today, so we are going in the right direction” George Russell said after the race.
“If we can maintain a good qualifying position ahead of the Alfa Romeos and the Haas’ there’s no reason we can’t stay there on merit on a Sunday.”
Up at the front a pedestrian British grand Prix came to life with a handful of laps remaining when tyre dramas saw a number of drivers suffer punctures – including second place Valtteri Bottas – who plummeted down the order – and eventual race winner Lewis Hamilton, for whom drama struck on the last lap and he was able to make it to the finish without pitting, taking the chequered flag on three wheels.
It would now seem, with four races on the board, that only a serious bout of COVID-19 can stand in the way of Lewis Hamilton taking his seventh F1 World Championship, and Schumacher’s wins record with it, such is his and his team Mercedes’ dominance.
Behind the front two, however, there’s still plenty to play for!