George Russell has leapt to Alex Albon’s defense after outqualifying the Red Bull Racing driver at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Williams has been significantly more competitive this season compared to 2019, and Russell confirmed that with his second Q2 appearance in succession at the Hungaroring. In securing 12th on the grid, Russell also beat Albon (pictured above) by one place as Red Bull surprisingly struggled — with Max Verstappen only seventh — and the 2018 Formula 2 champion strongly defended his rival afterwards.
“I’ve known Alex for the last 15 years, being in the same paddock as him,” Russell said. “He’s one of the best drivers we’ve all raced — Max, Charles (Leclerc), all of us will say it. He’s always been at the front in everything he’s done and I don’t know what the hell is going on.
“I feel really bad for him as he’s being made to look like an idiot and he’s absolutely not. He’s won in everything he’s done so I don’t know what’s going on, but they need to sort it out for him.”
After coming within 0.2s of a spot in Q3, Russell can at least revel in his own performance and the strides Williams has made with its 2020 car.
“It’s massive for them. All the guys, especially the guys here at the racetrack who come week in week out. They haven’t changed the job they do from the days of finishing on the podium in 2014 — they saw the decline and then suddenly having two really tough years, it’s great to give that back to them. Really pleased for them for the hard work they put in.
“It’s been three races so far…. we know this is a track which suits our car best out of all of them, so I don’t think we need to get carried away with two really great qualifying performances. They were great for different weekends, but still a great morale booster.”
Russell believes the more competitive car means he is getting more recognition for his performances this season than last.
“I felt like I did some good performances last year but because of the pace of the car you can’t see it. Fortunately the guys at Williams and Mercedes recognized it, but still the rest of the guys don’t. So to have the car underneath us is great. Congrats to Nicky (Latifi) getting into Q2 as well. Great job, pleased for him.”