George Russell admits he didn’t want to earn his first podium without completing a racing lap but feels his Belgian Grand Prix qualifying performance was rewarded with second place.
Attempts to hold a race in treacherous conditions at Spa-Francorchamps saw the time window extended but ultimately failed, with just two laps taking place behind the safety car over three hours after the original start time. That was enough to technically call a race result meaning Russell — who sensationally qualified second on Saturday — was classified in the same position for his first podium in a Williams.
“Obviously not the way I’d have liked to have scored my first podium,” Russell said. “A little bit of a strange feeling achieving it in this way but at the end of the day we’ve been rewarded for such a fantastic job yesterday.
“It’s such a shame for everybody at home watching and all the fans here. Even I was, in second behind Max (Verstappen), anything over 200kph, I could not see a single thing. I may as well have been closing my eyes down the straight and was having to lift off the throttle. So, it wasn’t safe at all to race. I think the FIA made the right decision.”
Despite acknowledging the strange circumstances, Russell says the result is just reward for Williams after such a difficult spell for the team, with Nicholas Latifi’s ninth place also marking the second race in succession it has scored with both cars.
“We don’t often get rewarded for great qualifyings but we absolutely did today!” he noted. “It actually counted, so a little celebration tonight, I’m sure. My whole team deserves it as there has been so much hard work going into it over the last few years and there has not really been anything to show for it or prove for it. We absolutely nailed it yesterday and here we are standing on the podium. I can tell you I didn’t expect that this year, that’s for sure.
“It’s been a very long day — but for the whole team it’s a massive result. For us to be standing on this podium, didn’t really matter how we achieved it, standing on this podium, is a huge result for us to… remembering we finished last in the constructors’ championship three years in a row and here we are this weekend, qualifying on the front row and standing on the podium. I’m really proud to have achieved this with the team.”