Russell Wins in Dramatic F2 Feature Race at Paul Ricard
Mercedes-AMG F1 Reserve Driver George Russell took an incredible victory at the Le Castellet, Paul Ricard Circuit - winning a lights to flag race in wet and dry conditions, taking his third win of the 2018 FIA Formula 2 Championship.
Russell started from pole position as the circuit was swept with light rain falling as the cars formed on the grid. He made a lightning start from pole position to open up a healthy lead over his nearest rival Sergio Sette Camara in the treacherous conditions, which saw many of his rivals endure spins and off-track excursions in the opening laps.
The ART Grand Prix driver stretched his advantage out front to over 3-seconds over Camara, as he negotiated the damp track on his slick tyres. The leading three drivers of Russell, Sette Camara and Alexander Albon pulled an advantage of almost 15-seconds on the rest of field out front.
Sette Camara pitted first for fresh tyres, with Russell pitting to cover his rival one lap later - rejoining in the lead of the race. He was unable to relax though, as behind the Carlin driver still remained a threat, but importantly outside of DRS range.
Russell resisted the pressure from the Brazilian in the closing stages, which included an unsuccessful late lunge into the final corner - to take his third victory of the 2018 campaign in dominant style.
Russell led from lights to flag in the 30-lap Feature Race, picking up 25 points and moving to within 7 points of the Championship lead.
George Russell "It was an extremely difficult race, probably one of the most tricky races I’ve ever driven in or been a part of. Being at the front is always extremely difficult because you’ve got no reference to another driver going off or spinning off when the rain is falling. I was always the one approaching the corners first, not knowing how much grip there was going to be, whether it was going to be wet or dry. So, it was really difficult, but I was pushing because I knew it would be an opportunity to build a gap and I think me and Sergio pulled away a lot.
Towards the end of the race, I was quite comfortable with the tyres and had everything under control, but I just started losing a lot of speed and was really struggling with tyre deg. Sergio was catching me a lot, and I was very lucky to keep hold of first position.
In the end, for myself and Sergio to finish 30 seconds ahead of P3 meant we had a fantastic race. I am very happy to take my third victory of the season.
Tomorrow I’m hoping to move up the grid, but it’s obvious that the tyre deg is a little bit worse than we all expected. It’s going to be tricky for everyone tomorrow, so I don’t know to be honest! If we drop off like we did today, then I’m not expecting much – Sergio and I made our gap at the start and started to struggle towards the end, but listening to Roberto it seemed a lot of people were in a similar boat. So I don’t know, top four seems possible so I’ll just go for it really.
As a result of his Feature Race victory, Russell will start the partially reversed Sprint Race from 8th position on the grid. The race will precede the 2018 Formula One French Grand Prix, with the final F2 race of the weekend shown live on Sky Sports F1 HD at 11:55 (GMT+2).