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Formula 1

Russell explains awful race that brought back memories of 2019

by Josh Suttill
3 min read

George Russell described his fall through the field in the Portuguese Grand Prix as one of his toughest races since Williams’s awful 2019 Formula 1 season.

Russell was one of the stars of qualifying as he claimed 11th on the grid, narrowly missing out on making Q3.

It was expected that the race would provide him with his best chance yet of scoring his first points for the team, given he was able to choose his starting tyre while some of the other midfield runners had to start on the softs they used to get through Q2.

But Russell plummeted through the order, dropping all the way to 16th, and he said there was nothing he could do.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Portuguese Grand Prix Qualifying Day Portimao, Portugal

“Incredibly tough, probably one of the toughest races I have had since 2019 when the car was so far off,” Russell told Sky Sports F1.

“It was a race of survival, just trying to keep the car on the track. I couldn’t battle with anybody, which was a real shame.

“I finished 40 seconds behind the car ahead of me and almost two laps down. So yeah, Formula 1 is tricky sometimes.”

Russell explained that while his race was frustrating, it was not a shock, as Williams was expecting its car to struggle in the windy conditions at the Algarve circuit.

Williams went into this season knowing it had created an incredibly sensitive car, as it had chased peak downforce in a bid to create a car that will be capable of excelling at some tracks while struggling at others.

“We know how difficult our car is when the wind picks up and we’ve seen over the course of this weekend when the wind was strong we were slow,” Russell said.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Portuguese Grand Prix Race Day Portimao, Portugal

“When the wind died down we could do a performance like we did yesterday.

“That Q2 lap came from absolutely nowhere. Two sessions before we were miles off the pace and then suddenly we were fighting for Q3.

“Unfortunately that’s the nature of the beast with our car. We’ve had three races now, two of which have been very gusty and very exposed circuits, so fingers crossed we’re not talking about this all season.

“It’s not a surprise. We’ve just got to make the most of it and fingers crossed we get an opportunity where things are a bit more normal throughout this season.”

Russell lost places at the start and on the restart after the early safety car period, but when asked by The Race if those moments of the race influenced his result, he said “it would have made no difference”.

He added: “We would have dropped back regardless. When the car is so sensitive aerodynamically, it gives no confidence to attack on those first laps.

“We’re constantly on the back foot, battling from behind. As I said, one of the hardest races we’ve ever done.”

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