Russell: Latifi driving the best I’ve seen from him, has shot at Q3

Russell Nicholas Latifi (CDN) Williams Racing FW43B.

George Russell believes that his Williams teammate Nicholas Latifi has a chance of making Q3 during qualifying ahead of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola.

Russell, who has outqualified Latifi at every race since they became teammates at the start of last season, was off the pace set by the Canadian during Friday practice, with Latifi more than a tenth quicker in both sessions.

Heading into the weekend, Williams were expecting Imola to suit their car better than the Bahrain International Circuit, venue of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix last month, and that so far looks to be the case.

Reflecting on a full Friday of running, Russell said that the team were in a “good position” and that Latifi was driving “the best I’ve ever seen him”.

“I’m a little bit off the pace, Nicholas is driving really really well, probably the best I’ve ever seen him drive,” he said. “He’s got a real shot at the moment, I need to improve quite a bit to close the gap to our competitors and also to Nicholas, but as a team I think we are in a good position.

“So fortunately I’ve got his data to look over tonight. I’m just struggling a bit, I don’t really know why to be honest, we were were really strong here last year.

“The car felt good, we were just slow, so sometimes feeling good isn’t necessarily fast, it’s all about lap times in Formula 1, so we have a lot to review tonight.

“It’s tricky with these cold conditions. The tyres are at a lower limit. It’s going to be tricky but I think if the stars align we have got a real good shot this weekend so we have to make sure we make the most of it tomorrow.

“I hope a minimum of Q2 to be honest, we’ve had a number of Q2 appearances over the last two seasons and I think we’re looking stronger than ever, or certainly Nicholas is, he was a good four tenths ahead of me to be honest and he’s probably got a shot at Q3. So personally I’ve got a bit of work to do.”