The critical calls behind Russell's standout qualifying lap
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The critical calls behind Russell's standout qualifying lap

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A maiden Formula 1 podium is special, but George Russell will never forget exactly how his came about on a controversial Belgian Grand Prix weekend. Regardless of the outcry over the 'race' behind the safety car, the Williams driver and his team deserve considerable praise and recognition for the smart strategy and bold decisions they took in qualifying

Russell’s first Formula 1 podium came in utterly bizarre circumstances at the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix. But it was ultimately his reward for delivering arguably the best driving of the Spa weekend the day before in qualifying.

The session was wet from the start – with Q1 delayed by 12 minutes to allow the FIA to assess the track conditions, a paltry hold-up compared to what was to follow on Sunday. When it did get going, Russell’s Williams squad sent the Briton and teammate Nicholas Latifi out on intermediates. This was an “aggressive” decision, per Williams’ head of vehicle performance Dave Robson, designed to "get the drivers’ confidence up" on the compound that would be crucial to gaining a high grid placing.

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