Russell: Q2 appearances don't reflect 'true pace' of Williams car

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George Russell claims his now regular Q2 appearances don't reflect the true pace of his Williams car.

The British driver has made it into the top 15 at all four races so far in 2021, with the best result of 11th in Portugal a week ago.

However, for all the impressive single laps Russell has managed at Williams, he is still yet to convert one into a points finish and often falls back in line with his teammate Nicholas Latifi on Sundays.

“Doing it over one lap is one thing,” said Russell, who has earned the nickname 'Mr Saturday' as a result.

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“When the pressure’s on, you’ve only got two opportunities, two laps. Everyone feels that pressure and for whatever reason, we manage to get the most out of it.

“But when you have a 65-lap race you can get into the groove, feel what the car’s doing and then push yourself over a couple of laps to that limit, that’s when the true pace of the car comes out.

“For whatever reason, we just manage to optimise it when the pressure’s on in those Q1 and Q2 sessions. I don’t know if we’re over-achieving or the others under-achieve, but we often know our Saturday position isn’t really the true pace of the car.”

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This year, Williams are yet to really get a full picture of their race potential as windy conditions exposed the car's main weakness in Bahrain and Portimao, while at Imola, Russell was near the points before crashing with Valtteri Bottas.

And as for qualifying in Barcelona, the 22-year-old was satisfied with P15

“I think Q2 today was the maximum,” added Russell. “We knew the car has never really worked perfectly around this circuit relative to our performance elsewhere.

“We struggled a bit yesterday in FP2, the conditions calmed down today, the car was in a much better window and we managed to outqualify cars like Tsunoda and Raikkonen who were mega-fast in practice – Raikkonen had been in the top 10 and he’s obviously one of our rivals.

“Very well maximised today and glad to have kept two new sets of medium tyres for tomorrow because we may be needing them.”