Williams: Latifi's strong Imola F1 form "disturbed" Russell

Williams believes Nicholas Latifi’s strong Formula 1 practice form “disturbed” George Russell ahead of Emilia Romagna Grand Prix qualifying, before he “chipped away” to join his teammate in Q2.

Williams: Latifi's strong Imola F1 form "disturbed" Russell

Russell explained after qualifying that he had been “just confused” why Latifi had “had the upper hand on me every single lap” throughout practice and Q1, with the Briton trailing in each session except FP3.

In Q2, however, Russell reversed the Williams’ drivers fortunes to maintain his 100% qualifying record against teammates at the team – his only F1 qualifying defeat to a teammate being his loss against Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas when he stood in for Lewis Hamilton at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix.

Russell said “everything came alive, the car felt great” when the Williams drivers used a set of medium tyres for their first runs in Q2 – the first time the duo had reached the middle segment of qualifying together for the first time since the 2020 Hungarian GP – and he stayed ahead of Latifi when they switched back to the softs to seal 12th and 14th on the grid.

When asked by Motorsport.com what was behind Russell’s Q2 improvement, Williams’ head of vehicle performance, Dave Robson, said: “We know that he’s capable of pulling out a lap when it really counts, so I think there’s an element of that, [and] I think he was genuinely kind of surprised yesterday.

“Nicholas just came out of the blocks flying yesterday and was strong right from the start and I think perhaps that disturbed George a little bit and he’d got his head around that by this afternoon.

“To be fair to him, he’s just chipped away as the weekend has gone on – he just pulled out a good lap.”

Speaking about his pre-qualifying struggles, Russell said: “I came into this weekend thinking this could be our chance for Q3 and points.

“After every single session, I thought I'd be lucky to get out of Q1. Nicholas had the upper hand on me every single lap this whole weekend, I was just confused as to why.

Read Also:

George Russell, Williams FW43B

George Russell, Williams FW43B

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

“I thought I was driving well, the car felt good. And he was just quicker than me, a good three or four tenths every time, and even in Q1 I scraped through by the skin of my teeth.”

Russell’s initial jump on the mediums in Q2 led him to feel he “actually wanted to do my second set on the medium tyre” in that session as well, but Robson explained “I don't think we would ever have done that” as the team needed to keep the extra set of mediums for Sunday’s race.

Robson added: “We desperately want that new option for some flexibility tomorrow, particularly with the weather forecast as it is [high chance of rain showers].”

Robson also put Latifi’s strong form this weekend – he has taken his highest F1 grid spot, beating Alpine’s Fernando Alonso with an identical time the Canadian set first, so starts ahead – down to him being “mentally strong this weekend”.

“He's just been extremely good right from the moment he rolled out of the garage in P1,” Robson continued. “In terms of both the pace and his whole attitude and demeanour has been particularly good.

“He obviously had a little bit of a blip in P3 [when Latifi crashed at the Villeneuve chicane] and it didn't perturb him at all. And the fact he went straight back out, once we were happy with the car, he was still pretty much back on the pace straightaway

“I think having the car just consistent and behaving well all round the lap, I'm sure helps and plays a small part in that.

“But I think we also have to remember he was quick here in October. He does seem to be good here, as well as the car being good.

“But yeah, I think there was a bit more to it this weekend, not just that he's some sort of Imola specialist.

“I think, genuinely, he's driving well and in his whole attitude – and his mentality is really good.”

shares
comments

Related video

Mercedes: Tyre warm-up issue caused Bottas’ Q3 struggles

Previous article

Mercedes: Tyre warm-up issue caused Bottas’ Q3 struggles

Next article

F1 will keep Miami and Austin dates separate

F1 will keep Miami and Austin dates separate
Load comments
The final throes of Brazil's fleetingly successful F1 team Prime

The final throes of Brazil's fleetingly successful F1 team

Emerson Fittipaldi is better remembered for his Formula 1 world championships and Indianapolis 500 successes than for the spell running his eponymous F1 team. Despite a hugely talented roll call of staff, it was a period of internal strife, limited funding and few results - as remembered by Tim Wright.

Why McLaren's expanding agenda will benefit its F1 resurgence Prime

Why McLaren's expanding agenda will benefit its F1 resurgence

In the 1960s and 1970s, McLaren juggled works entries in F1, sportscars and the Indy 500 while building cars for F3 and F2. Now it’s returning to its roots, expanding into IndyCars and Extreme E while continuing its F1 renaissance. There’s talk of Formula E and WEC entries too. But is this all too much, too soon? Stuart Codling talks to the man in charge.

Formula 1
Oct 17, 2021
How Tsunoda plans to achieve his F1 potential Prime

How Tsunoda plans to achieve his F1 potential

Yuki Tsunoda arrived in grand prix racing amid a whirlwind of hype, which only increased after his first race impressed the biggest wigs in Formula 1. His road since has been rocky and crash-filled, and OLEG KARPOV asks why Red Bull maintains faith in a driver who admits he isn’t really that big a fan of F1?

Formula 1
Oct 15, 2021
The danger of reading too much into F1's clickbait radio messages Prime

The danger of reading too much into F1's clickbait radio messages

OPINION: After Lewis Hamilton responded to reports labelling him 'furious' with Mercedes following his heated exchanges over team radio during the Russian Grand Prix, it provided a snapshot on how Formula 1 broadcasting radio snippets can both illuminate and misrepresent the true situation

Formula 1
Oct 14, 2021
How F1’s pole winner approach undermines drivers Prime

How F1’s pole winner approach undermines drivers

OPINION: Valtteri Bottas is credited with pole position for the 2021 Turkish Grand Prix, despite being beaten in qualifying. This is another example of Formula 1 and the FIA scoring an own goal by forgetting what makes motorsport magic, with the Istanbul race winner also a victim of this in the championship’s recent history

Formula 1
Oct 13, 2021
Turkish Grand Prix driver ratings Prime

Turkish Grand Prix driver ratings

On a day that the number two Mercedes enjoyed a rare day in the sun, the Turkish Grand Prix produced several standout drives - not least from a driver who has hit a purple patch of late

Formula 1
Oct 11, 2021
The hidden factors that thwarted Hamilton's bid for Turkey glory Prime

The hidden factors that thwarted Hamilton's bid for Turkey glory

Starting 11th after his engine change grid penalty, Lewis Hamilton faced a tough task to repeat his Turkish Grand Prix heroics of 2020 - despite making strong early progress in the wet. Instead, his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas broke through for a first win of the year to mitigate Max Verstappen re-taking the points lead

Formula 1
Oct 11, 2021
How pitstops evolved into an F1 art form Prime

How pitstops evolved into an F1 art form

A Formula 1 pitstop is a rapid-fire blend of high technology and human performance. PAT SYMONDS describes how the science of margin gains makes stops so quick

Formula 1
Oct 10, 2021