George Russell’s incredible qualifying lap for the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix, not only earned him a front-row start but also ended up being enough for his first Formula 1 podium.
In a race that never was, half points were awarded after the field did the required laps behind the safety car at a rain-drenched Spa-Francorchamps on Sunday. Hence, how they finished in qualifying is pretty much how the race result was determined.
Hence Russell’s second place in the Williams, with Red Bull’s pole winner Max Verstappen declared the winner and Mercedes world champion Lewis Hamilton third.
Nevertheless, if ever a qualifying lap deserved points what George delivered on Saturday was it.
In the team report, Russell said: “The conditions were incredibly difficult out there and even in second with only one car in front, sometimes I couldn’t even see Max ahead. I’m really sorry for everyone at the track and those watching around the world that we couldn’t race but safety has to come first.
“It’s a strange feeling as I’ve never had a race finish like this in my career, but a podium is a podium and we will take it no matter what. We were rewarded for the amazing job we did as a team yesterday.
“Obviously, if the race had gone ahead today it would have been incredibly difficult for us to hold our position, but you’ve got to take it as it comes.
“It was only last race in Hungary that I scored my first points for Williams and here we are standing on the podium at the Belgian Grand Prix! It is a reward for all of the hard work everyone in the team has put in over these past three years.”
As for the wet and rainy conditions that prevailed throughout race day, Russell said in the post qualifying press conference: “Coming out of Turn 1, all the way up through Eau Rouge and into turn five I think, for me, I felt like as soon as we were over probably 200km/h that spray was just too drastic and I had absolutely no idea where Max was.
“That was probably less concerning… it was probably more concerning for drivers behind me because they can’t see me as well and yeah, I don’t think I rarely got full throttle down the straights and you were just losing tyre temperature as well.
“The laps behind the safety car and everything, one after another, was just making it impossible out there so yeah, we may as well have been driving up the straight with our eyes closed at points because that’s how it would have been had the race started.
“It would have been chaos, so we made the right call to not race from three o’clock onwards. Whether we could have pushed it forward, pre-empting this weather – who knows?” added Russell.