George Russell and Williams once again found themselves knocking on the door of a top ten finish in the 2021 Austrian Grand Prix – the second of two races at the Red Bull Ring in the Styrian Hills.
NB: I make no apologies for being George Russell-centric in these race reports – Nicholas Latifi is doing a fine job in the second Williams, but he’s being well and truly overshadowed by his team-mate, who has been stellar of late, and who is quite rightly stealing all the headlines.
Williams’ glass ceiling was smashed in qualifying when George made it into Q3 for the first time in his Williams career in Austria, something the team and driver should be take great heart from given the journey they’ve been on in the last couple of years.
Starting Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix from a lofty P9 at a circuit that seems to suit his Williams FW43B, having lapped as high as 8th in the Styrian Grand Prix the week before, Russell dropped a couple of places at the start (as per…) after a contretemps with an out of control Tsunoda at turn 1 left him down in p12.
After a series of early stops, he was able to climb to p9 before he stopped for his one and only tyre change on lap 30.
By lap 52 George made his way back into the top ten, but with double World Champion Fernando Alonso in his wheeltracks.
An epic defence followed for a number of laps as George Russell fought for all he’s worth to hold on to the tenth place that would give the young Briton his first F1 points with Williams, but alas it was not to be, and the Alpine’s superior pace told, and Russell duly slipped back to 11th where he would finish.
I felt a little bit sad for George because he drove an amazing weekend, and when I saw P10 was him, I was hoping anyone apart from him, but that’s the sport.” Alonso told reporters, in the melee following the Austrian Grand Prix.
“I had much better tyres, much better traction out of [Turn 3] and I could make the move three laps from the end.”
“So he will have more opportunities hopefully for podiums and wins in the future.”
Latifi, by his own admission, had an uneventful race, lacking pace but staying out of trouble, spending much of the race touring on his own, eventually coming home in 15th.
Next up it’s the team’s home Grand Prix at Silverstone, where the flat expansive nature of the Northamptonshire circuit can often expose the cars to wind – not something the Williams FW43B particularly enjoys.