Williams’ George Russell did not have supreme pace in F1 Spanish GP but the Brit was relishing fight against Renault, Haas and Alfa Romeo.
For Williams F1 driver Russell, there were few potential outcomes more satisfying than the one that materialised at the Spanish GP last weekend, as the British driver beat both his teammate and Haas’ Romain Grosjean.
His 17th-place finish may not be impressive to many on paper, and the sophomore driver himself acknowledged that the race appeared an ordinary one for him from 30,000 feet. However, he pointed out that the car he was driving was perhaps the worst he’s piloted since the start of 2020.
Not to mention, Russell had some stupendously entertaining battles throughout the race, most of which saw him fair well given the performance deficit he suffered from, and one of which saw him nearly overtake Renault’s Esteban Ocon, to whom he has a severe disadvantage by virtue of his car.
“At one point I was right behind Ocon with more pace advantage to him,” explained Russell. “He was very fortunate that when I was closest to him, he had the DRS of Giovinazzi, who was just pitting. Had that not happened, I think I could have overtaken Ocon. He definitely would have re overtake me again. But for me to be right up behind a Renault, which is a lot of time right in there in Q3, I was really pleased.
“I dropped off like a stone in the last few laps, but I was giving it everything I had. Ultimately it is very very difficult as a driver when you’re constantly on the defensive, when you are in a car that isn’t as fast as the others it is very tricky to race against but I really enjoyed it. That sense of racing again, the pressure of a guy behind you, trying to overtake, drivers in front of you, that I was trying to attack. That was really fun. And it wasn’t just a typical normal race in P19,” Russell said.
The 22-year-old was at one point mere centimeters away from being denied finishing, as – when he went side-by-side with Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen, the Finn had severe oversteer, and nearly collected the both of them, in their fight.
“We’ve been very slow in the straight all weekend, especially compared to the Alfas, who normally were at 10kph up on us with non DRS,” said Russell. “And then the DRS effect and the slipstream effect, he came from nowhere, he’s launched it down the outside of me. I just braked as late as I could, I got to the apex of the right, and we were pretty much almost banging wheels and I just kept on the outside on the left.
“I knew it was very, very tight. I managed to say ahead. I watched the onboard and it was a good racing, I thought. I enjoyed it. I think it was hard from both, fair from my side. And like I say, for me, I’m just gaining confidence now, and being in situations. Like I said, it’s probably only my second or third race I’ve been in this position, fighting him with other cars and against guys who have the experience like Kimi, that I enjoyed,” Russell said.
All of his battles provide a greater indication of his F1 team’s progress this year, as 2019 saw no inter-team battles for Williams, who only were good enough to fight amongst themselves. Their strides are good motivation for team members, says Russell.
“I think it’s motivation, for all of us,” said Russell. “We don’t want to be here fighting for the latter positions. But the fact that we are on par with the Haas and the Alfas, they probably still just have the legs on us, but they are really within striking distance. It adds that extra motivation for me as a driver, the team to really try and get everything out of it.
“And it’s going to keep allowing everybody to push further to try and get us back into, you know, the B class category. At the moment we’re in the C class, along with Haas and Alfa. We still need to keep pushing to get to the B class, but obviously the Mercedes and Red Bull are just in a league of their own at the moment,” summed up Russell.
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