George Russell’s stunning qualifying effort at Spa has him targeting a top-five finish in tomorrow’s Belgian Grand Prix.
The young Brit silenced the Formula 1 paddock with awe as he delivered one of the most impressive wet-weather laps of his young career.
He will start alongside Max Verstappen on the front row for the race.
Going against the norm of doing two flying laps on the intermediate tyres with a cool-down lap in between, Williams went for a ‘prep lap’ and just one fast lap for Russell.
The decision paid massive dividends as Russell maximised the best conditions of the entire session with relatively fresh tyres.
“We went for that, took the opportunity to do the prep lap and get the tyres in the right state and go for it,” Williams engineering chief Dave Robson said.
“It worked out really well. It all came together nicely.”
This year’s Williams car is a Q1, Q2 car at best on an average day with dry conditions.
However, add rain into the mix, and the team has the potential to punch well above its weight.
Inclement weather is forecasted for tomorrow’s Grand Prix, which works in Russell’s favour.
He understands that the cars behind him are, typically, much faster than his machine. Still, he is pushing for an equally impressive result come race day.
“We’ve obviously got to be realistic, we’ve got incredibly fast cars behind us,” Russell said.
“If the conditions stay the same, we’ve got a car that is probably quick enough on merit for the top ten.
“But we’re starting on the front row and there’s no reason why we can’t try and hold that position for the majority of the race.
“I think there’s no reason why we can’t finish – if conditions are like this – top five and just maximise it. Points are an absolute minimum.”
Mercedes call-up on the way?
Mercedes have confirmed that a decision about who will partner Lewis Hamilton next season has been made.
Who exactly that driver will be – either retaining Valtteri Bottas or promoting Russell – is still under wraps.
Bottas has had his spot in the second Mercedes seat questioned annually since he joined the squad in 2017.
However, his performances this season have often been sub-par. Whereas Russell, a Mercedes junior driver, has been incredibly impressive.
Despite acknowledging his team have firmed up their 2022 driver line-up, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said Russell’s qualifying efforts overnight have zero impact on that decision.
“Today doesn’t make any difference,” said Wolff.
“We know what we have with George. He’s been outstanding in the junior categories. He’s been outstanding at Williams, and he has been outstanding when he was with us in Bahrain.”