Russell qualifies 2nd on the grid for FIA Formula 2 debut
George Russell set the 2nd fastest lap in his maiden FIA Formula 2 qualifying session in Bahrain, narrowly missing out on pole by 0.062s, onboard his ART Grand Prix machine.
After a solid morning practice session -where Russell was 5th quickest in the daytime session, the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport Reserve Driver headed the timesheets after the first runs in qualifying, despite having a wide moment at the final corner.
Russell went early for his final run, aiming to put in his lap when the track was less busy with cars - minimising the chances of traffic.
The BRDC Superstar set down a benchmark that was over half a second faster than his first effort, cementing himself at the top of the timesheets.
As Russell peeled into the pits for the final 5 minutes of the session, it was a case of waiting. Russell's time remaining in provisional pole until he was just pipped by 0.062s by fellow Briton Lando Norris in the dying moments of the session.
The chequered flag fell, leaving Russell a brilliant 2nd on the grid and on the front row for his FIA F2 debut race.
George Russell "I'm obviously a little bit disappointed that I missed out on pole position. It’s always a risk running in the middle of the session, the track’s always getting faster and faster with more grip going down and the temperature getting cooler as well.
We saw what happened last year in the qualifying session, and there was much less of a risk in running it. Nevertheless I’m happy with it, I think Bahrain’s always a circuit where qualifying is not important at all.
We’ve seen that the tyre deg is really high, and you can win from probably anywhere inside the top ten. I’m feeling happy and confident going into the race tomorrow, and as Lando said it’s a long season and a long way to go, so I’m pleased to be sat up here."
The first race of the 2018 FIA Formula 2 Championship kicks off at 13:10 (GMT+3) for the 32 lap feature race, shown live on Sky Sports F1 HD.
This will be Russell's first experience of pit-stops during a race.
Bahrain is notoriously hard on tyre wear and degradation, with the track temperatures reaching the highest of the season in the heat of the desert - providing a stern challenge to all the drivers onboard the new Dallara F2/18 car.
With an all British front-row, Russell is well placed to challenge for the victory and start his FIA F2 season in the best possible way.