George Russell was a dejected figure after F1 Styrian GP as a power unit trouble forced him to retire from the race, where points seemed possible.
From Friday itself, it looked good for Williams, where Russell sounded confident of a good show in F1 Styrian GP. The qualifying pace wasn’t questioned as much, but their race pace looked decent enough to fight in the upper midfield arena.
Having missed Q3 by 0.008s, the confidence for Russell and Williams was high and he found himself in eighth after Lap 1 after trouble ahead. He chased Alpine’s Fernando Alonso, while being chased by McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo in the opening stages.
Russell hung on, though, until the radio message from the team about an apparent reliability issue. The pit stop was long as mechanics worked on the right side of the car for pneumatic cooling, but eventually, they were forced to retire from the race.
The larger issue Williams noted was with the power unit, but Mercedes said nothing about it. Post-race, Russell was hugely dejected as he noted of a ‘typical’ situation with him, that whenever a race seems to be in his hands, it slips out for some reason.
“It’s such a shame,” Russell said to TV media. “Racing is never easy. It’s never… fair is not the right word. You make your own luck, and ultimately, something went wrong. But for us, we’re not here consistently, and it’s just typical. I don’t really know what to think or to say, to be honest.
“It’s such a shame for everybody in the team. They’ve worked so hard for this, and it’s been such a long time coming. These points would have been massive, not just for the morale, I think P7 was probably possible, I was quicker than Alonso – four or six points in the constructors’ would have been massive. Absolutely massive for us,” summed up Russell, who noted that he was managing the race all-through.
He felt confident and this gives him good momentum going forward. “I was just managing my tyres, out of that midfield gaggle I was the first one on the mediums,” said Russell to written media. “And I was just managing, waiting for them to pit to sort of drop the hammer, and then I would have had the fresh tyres at the end.
“So I would have been would have been in a really strong position. I mean, I think P8 would have been the minimum really. It is definitely promising. I do think that maybe the last few races, we have just put things together incredibly well. And everything has been really well aligned and we’ve probably capitalised on other people’s mistakes.
“So we have to perform at excellence, and hope that others don’t. But nevertheless, P11 in qualifying, we had a good race last week in France, we would have been in the points. I think we need to see again and obviously, we’ve done eight races so far, and in only two of which we have been truly pretty quick,” summed up Russell.
The performance and pace of Williams was noted by rivals too, especially Alonso, who was being chased by the British driver early on. He expects them to be close again this weekend. “No, I was not surprised, I think he was already fast on Friday, the Williams, I think they were 11th last year in Austria, so it seems that they are generally fast at this circuit,” he said.
“So I was expecting a strong race from them but unfortunately he had to retire. Next weekend I would expect Williams again to be very close to us.” For Toto Wolff, meanwhile, it was not a showing from Russell, which surprised him in any way.
He felt more for Williams, who seemed to be on a good track and points for them, would have meant a lot. “I followed the race of course,” said Wolff. “We had our own battles in the front. I saw that George was running right in the top 10 pack, and fast. So when I saw the car breaking down, it’s just a super shame for Williams and for himself.
“But nobody doubts his speed, and the quality as a driver. It’s a shame for Williams, not having taken home a serious amount of points which would have made a big difference in the championship,” summed up Wolff.
Here’s how F1 Styrian GP panned out