George Russell believes more mixed conditions will provide him with a better chance of beating Max Verstappen in the Sao Paulo Grand Prix despite spinning off in the wet in qualifying.
Rain was starting to intensify as Q3 got underway, making the first lap crucial and Kevin Magnussen took full advantage with a brilliant effort as the lead car on track to give Haas its first pole position in Formula 1. Russell slotted into third place behind Verstappen despite being further back in the queue, and after spinning into the gravel — bringing out a red flag — he says he still wants similar weather on Saturday and Sunday.
“I definitely think that’s our best shot at trying to finish ahead of Max and Red Bull…if we have mixed conditions,” Russell said. “I hope it doesn’t get too bad and the fans can still enjoy the race but, nevertheless, I think we are ready to have a good couple of races.
“I’m actually happy to end up third, and massive congratulations to Kevin on the awesome job he did and the whole Haas team, which they deserve for all the efforts they’ve been putting in. And yes, P3 is not necessarily where we want to be, but a very good place to be starting from, for tomorrow’s race.
“We were obviously one of the last cars to go out in qualifying. It was such a unique experience because, as the lap progressed, the rain was falling harder and harder. I went into the last corner and it was a lot wetter than it was the lap before, so we had to be really tentative. But a massive congratulations to Kevin and Haas. This is what Formula 1 and sport is about — to have some crazy results like this. For us, P3 is a good place to start the Sprint tomorrow.”
After bouncing through the gravel when he locked up at Turn 4, Russell spun when trying to turn the car round on an access road and got stuck, but he believes there should be no lasting issues from the incident.
“What was going through my mind — I was getting a really bad headache to be honest. I’ve broken the headrest because my head was banging so much. It was a pretty unpleasant experience.
“I lost the rear, I booted it and wanted to do a 360. And then I dipped the rears in the gravel; probably not the wisest choice I’ve ever made, but as it turned out, we knew that first lap was it…
“I think there should be no damage. I’m always a bit tentative when it’s being lifted onto the tow truck. There’s a lot of gravel so the guys are going to have to take the car to pieces to make sure we got all the gravel out, but we should be OK.”