George Russell admits he had mixed feelings after first F1 podium in Belgian GP after the way he got to it, as he adds on pressure off in P8 battle.
The ‘Mr. Saturday’ tag finally helped Williams’ Russell to achieve the unthinkable in that car, especially with how things are in 2021 F1 season. The pace he has shown so far in qualifying, it hasn’t entirely replicated in the grand prix events for various reasons.
One of them certainly is the genuine slowness of the car in the pecking order. However, with how the weekend was at Spa-Francorchamps, the Saturday work for Russell eventually paved way for an extraordinary result on Sunday – thanks to the regulations.
His second place in treacherous conditions on Saturday was enough to hand him his first-ever F1 podium after the race was decided behind the safety car with about two laps done. Naturally, it wasn’t the way he wanted it, but they take it with both arms.
“Obviously, it is not the way I’d have liked to have scored my first podium,” admitted Russell. “A little bit of a strange feeling achieving it in this way but at the end of the day we’ve been rewarded for such a fantastic job in qualifying. We don’t often get rewarded for great qualifyings but we absolutely did in Belgium.
“My ‘Mr. Saturday’ tag actually counted. My whole team deserves it as there has been so much hard work going into it over the last few years and there has not really been anything to show for it or prove for it and we absolutely nailed it in qualifying and here we are standing on the podium. I can tell you I didn’t expect that this year, that’s for sure.
“It was shame we couldn’t get this race underway but just from our side and the team’s side it is such an amazing result. Overall, it is such a shame for everybody at home watching and all the fans here. Even I was, in second behind Max, anything over 200kph, I could not see a single thing.
“I may as well have been closing my eyes down the straight and was having to lift off the throttle. So, it wasn’t safe at all to race,” summed up Russell, who scored his first podium finish in three years time, with his last coming in F2 in 2018 in Abu Dhabi.
The Belgian result also kind of sealed eighth place for Williams in the F1 constructors’ championship, with 20 points in their kitty to three for Alfa Romeo. Even though they have 10 races to go, it is highly unlikely that they can bridge the gap.
As per Russell, it certainly puts the pressure off from him and Williams, which allows them to try different things. “I believe the amount of points we scored in Hungary were probably enough to have secured that eighth in the Constructors,” he said.
“But I believe it probably takes even more pressure off now, to go out, really put everything on the line, maybe try some more extreme things, see if we can learn anything more – because there’s no reason why we can’t score more points. And, looking forward already to next weekend and to Zandvoort. It’s probably going to be difficult to race but I think the whole atmosphere there is going to be great,” summed up Russell.
Here’s the moment they had P2 sealed: https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/video.2021-belgian-grand-prix-verstappen-takes-victory-ahead-of-russell-as-race-called-off.1709448413200609196.html
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