There were signs of a corner having been turned last weekend at Hockenheim, but after a promising FP1 for Williams and their upgraded FW42, those signs seemed to ebb away when drivers George Russell and Robert Kubica slipped back in to their de facto 2019 positions of 19th and 20th quickest, before Kubica stole in for a WONDERFUL point at the death as a result of a 30 second penalty for the two Alfa Romeo cars for startline infringements (I won’t pretend to understand exactly what they infringed!).
But since the German Grand Prix, spirits seem to have lifted at Williams and the team arrived in Budapest for the 2019 Hungarian Grand Prix with genuine optimism for the remainder of the season – ten races that could dictate whether or not we approach the 2020 season with genuine expectation, or a little bit of dread before the reset in 2021.
George Russell managed to finish FP1, FP2 and FP3 off the back of the grid and with cars between himself and team-mate Robert Kubica, which was progress in itself, but better was to come in qualifying.
In easily the strongest qualifying of the year for Williams, George Russell put in a fantastic lap in Q1 to give himself and Williams a genuine shout of making it through to Q2 for the first time in 2019.
However, he was undone by Nico Hulkenberg – one of the last to set a time – who shuffled poor George into 16th and out of Q2 by a mere 0.05 of a second, and besting his team-mate by 1.3 seconds.
George, naturally was cock-a-hoop after the session, admitting 16th for he and Williams, being where they are was ‘like a pole position’.
16th turned into 15th with a penalty for Alfa’s Antonia Giovinazzi who’d been adjudged to have impeded Lance Stroll in Q1.
Qualifying would proved to be the highlight of the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend, as in the the race George, shuffled back a place at the start, managed to move up into 14th, before being gradually moving backwards before one-stopping on lap 16 and managing his tyres to the end of the race, finishing in 16th place, three places ahead of Kubica in 19th.
“Yesterday definitely exceeded expectations, so it was a little bit back to reality today. I had a good first lap and made up two positions on Magnussen and Kvyat at turn four and five, which was pretty fun. It was nice to be racing other drivers. We’ve still got work to do but there are a lot of positives to take from this weekend. We’ve made a good step forward.” Russell said on williamsf1.com
The race was won by Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton – his 8th win in 12 races – hauling in pole-sitter and long-time race leader Max Verstappen with five laps to go having pitted twice to Max’s (at the time) once.
The Hungarian Grand Prix was notable off the track for the number of Poles who made the journey to Budapest for their closest Grand Prix.
It is rumoured that between 35,000 to 40,000 Kubica fans travelled making it a sort of half home Grand Prix for #RK88.
It’s a shame he and Williams couldn’t have given them more to cheer about, but they made a lot of noise and showed their incredible commitment to their man nonetheless (isn’t that a funny word??)
If Robert Kubica’s comeback lasts just a single season as is rumoured, then I hope they’ve been able to enjoy having him back. On the whole* they’re a passionate, vocal and incredibly supportive group of fans and they will be missed.
*What won’t be missed is the blinkered, vitriolic views of several of Kubica’s countrymen who seem determined to blame anything and anyone but Kubica for his deficit to team mate Russell.