F2 Graduates: George Russell
The Norfolk-born Williams driver has gone from strength to strength in every series he’s entered.
Once he reached Formula 2 it was inevitable he would add another Championship trophy to his Formula 4 and GP3 collection.
An impressive P2 in Qualifying on his Bahrain debut resulted in fifth place in the Feature Race.
Russell’s Baku weekend was a mixed bag – with a P3 start on Saturday. In an eventful Feature Race Russell eventually finished in a lowly 12th place after Nyck de Vries locked up leaving Russell to take avoiding action. His potential first Formula 2 race win slipped through his fingers.
From the sixth row on the grid, Russell’s Sprint Race start saw the Brit weave between stalled cars and slow starters to be in P6 by the first corner.
Catching a battling Nicholas Latifi and Norris, Russell joined the party, going three-wide into Turn 1. With Norris losing out, it didn’t take long for Russell to slipstream Latifi.
Hunting down Sergio Sette Camara, Russell took his maiden Formula 2 race victory.
The Spanish Feature Race saw Russell take a back-to-back win in a chaotic race.
At Paul Ricard he scored his first pole position for the ART team, that led to a dominant second Feature Race win.
Russell qualified in pole position for the Austrian ‘rolling start’ Feature Race. An early Safety Car meant the ART driver could take advantage of his mandatory pit stop, taking back the lead of the race on Lap 30, to win at the Red Bull Ring.
Sunday’s Sprint Race saw a determined Russell climb from eighth to second which moved him into P1 in the Drivers’ standings for the first time that season.
Saturday and Sunday at Silverstone saw two P2s for Russell, which extended his Championship lead.
Technical issues hampered Russell’s Hungarian Feature Race.
Starting from P20 in Sunday’s Sprint Race, Russell drove the wheels off his car to finish in a commendable eighth.
At Spa, Russell finished in third place on a damp, slippery track, ahead of rival, Norris, further extending his Championship lead.
Russell took his fourth pole position in Formula 2’s visit to Monza. After another lightning start the ART driver gained three places on the first lap of the Sprint Race. He had Markelov pressuring him until the chequered flag, which saw the Brit lift the winners trophy.
Russell finished the Sochi Feature Race in fourth after yet another blistering start. His sixth race win of the 2018 Formula 2 season was under treacherous conditions. A decision to switch to wet tyres secured the victory.
The Championship decider – Abu Dhabi. Russell secured pole position for Saturday’s Feature Race.
The race was action-packed. The start-line collision between Nicholas Latifi and Arjun Maini, plus Albon’s grid stall, saw the launch of the Safety Car.
Losing out on the start, Russell had to wait until his first pit stop and an epic out-lap to retake the lead.
Managing his tyres, and a little luck when Luca Ghiotto was given a 5-second time penalty, Russell stormed to victory – Not only for the race win but for the Formula 2 Drivers’ Championship title.
“It’s a huge sigh of relief, to be honest! It’s been a very long and tough year for myself and ART. We ‘ve worked really hard and probably from Baku, we’ve been one of the quickest on track every single time.”
Russell’s transition into Formula 1 was inevitable. He had already been recruited in 2017 as a Mercedes junior.
When Russell was summoned by Claire Williams to join the ROKiT Williams team at the Russian Grand Prix in 2018 the meeting reportedly lasted just 20 minutes.
“I had a message from Claire Williams to go and see her after qualifying… I was hoping for the best but I wasn’t sure. Then she said ‘we want you for next year,’ and I said ‘absolutely.’” – Russell.
I've dreamed of this moment for as long as I can remember…— George Russell (@GeorgeRussell63) October 12, 2018
And now I can finally say it – as of 2019, I'll officially be an @F1 driver for @WilliamsRacing!
To everyone who made this possible – thank you, it means the world to me! I can't wait to get started!! #F1 pic.twitter.com/GpO5F6Wwkd
The Formula 2 Champion has a bright future ahead of him. Whether he remains with the Williams team, or if he eventually take a seat at Mercedes, or elsewhere, we can’t wait to see him win his next Championship title.
*Image Credits: FIA Formula 2 Media