George Russell, Williams, Sochi Autodrom, 2021

Russell pleased with “really strong performance” despite drop from third to tenth

2021 Russian Grand Prix

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George Russell was satisfied with his race at Sochi Autodrom despite falling from third on the grid to finish tenth.

The Williams driver was pleased to have held faster cars behind earlier in the race and said his team did “a really good job”.

Having kept his third place at the start, Russell slipped down the order after his pit stop and struggled in the final, wet laps. However he believes they had little chance to beat many of the cars they started ahead of.

“We knew before the race it didn’t matter if we stopped late, stopped early, the cars were much faster and had so much advantage on us they’d always find a way past. But it was a really good stint.”

Williams had used more of their allocation of intermediate tyres during qualifying than other teams, meaning Russell was only able to use already-worn tyres in the race’s final stage.

“I really struggled on the inters at the end and I think – I don’t know about the others, but I think I was one of the few drivers on used inters because we used all of our tyres in qualifying, whereas obviously everyone was saving theirs for Q3, the final run of Q3, which ended up to be slicks.

“I think we lost out a lot compared to the guys on the new tyres, because from the greasy conditions, the tyres were already like almost going to a slick,” he explained. “So maybe P8 would have been the maximum. But regardless, I think P10, we have some more points, we could have dreamt for more but realistically that was very strong.”

During the first stint, Russell was able to hold faster cars behind because Williams had opted for a lower-downforce setup. “We were the fastest car on the straight and that was really beneficial. It was a shame I couldn’t have done much more into turn one.”

Russell tried to out-drag front-row starters Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz Jnr at the beginning of the race. “Carlos was quite aggressive and he had the slipstream from Lando. So I was fighting my own battle but we were in a strong position holding P3 and I was proud we achieved that.”

He said Williams believed the lower downforce setup was “the fastest way around in the dry.” However, conceded that, in hindsight “I think, looking back, we could’ve maybe been slightly more competitive with higher downforce.”

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2021 Russian Grand Prix

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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9 comments on “Russell pleased with “really strong performance” despite drop from third to tenth”

  1. He did well but the worst part of this race was the DRS train behind Russell at the start of the race. I guess we were all relieved when he finally decided to pit but by then the car from the rear starting from the back of the race had joined the train. Not his fault but it makes the case for reverse grids not even being suggested as a joke. Unless we simulate rain at a random time on track.

  2. Yeah any time you score points in one of the three slower teams in F1 is still a good result and you can’t be too disappointed. I did find it weird that the interviewer on Sky opened with ‘you must be disappointed with that’. Just a few races ago the guy was literally in tears because the team scored points for the first time in three years. I think people dream too much when they see a car qualify obviously way above their potential due to mixed conditions, but realistically he was always fighting for the bottom end of the top 10 positions at best.

  3. Great to score points, and I get his point about not being fast enough for more, but I really think Williams shot themselves in the foot for responding to the early stoppers. They were doing really well with holding track position, and looked like they could have kept that longer.

  4. Not too long ago Russell’s 1st points driving a Williams seemed it would never come.

    Williams at Q3 not even considered. First row? Give me a break!

    Now they can already plan and try to maximize a race. What an evolution in only 12 months.

    There’s a lot of Russell there of course, but also strong work from new bosses.

    Will we see a Williams challenging a McLaren for podium places next year?

  5. Feels like Williams’s biggest problem was the management.
    These new guy took the team dead in the water and made it a very respectable place to be.

    1. I think the old management were holding out for a sale.

  6. A strong qualifying once again, but what a terrible strategy! Stroll made a crazy early stop, which put him out of contention, yet Williams decided to cover it. Given how difficult it was to overtake, track position was very valuable. To make matters worse, Russell still got jumped by Stroll, so they’d changed his strategy for nothing. In the end, it didn’t matter too much because the change to intermediates basically determined the final result, but otherwise it would have cost Williams quite a few points.

  7. A few more races in the points and Russel could even beat Tsunoda for 14th in standings.

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