Two points finishes for George Russell at Spa-Francorchamps Sprint weekend
Following a sensational comeback at the Hungarian Grand Prix, George and the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team headed to a circuit where he achieved his maiden Formula 1 podium in 2021, and narrowly missed out on a podium in 2022.
A practice washout
With just seven laps recorded on the Extreme Wet tyre in FP1, George ended practice in P13 ahead of the grid-deciding Qualifying session.
Consistency is key in qualifying
Track conditions relentlessly improved in the final moments of Q1 as the entire field carefully negotiated the circuit on Intermediates. George’s final effort saw him progress through to Q2 in eighth.
For the second of the qualifying sessions, the field switched to slicks and the #63 driver once again set the eighth fastest time, sending him through to Q3.
In the first truly dry session of the weekend, George went eighth fastest once more in the third and final qualifying session.
A challenging Sprint Shootout
In a case of déjà vu, the entire field donned the Intermediate tyre for a damp first part of qualifying. George progressed to Shootout 2 but only just, scraping through in P15.
The second part of the Shootout would end under red flags for the stricken Aston Martin of Lance Stroll. George held tenth as it was announced the session wouldn’t be restarted, subsequently progressing to the third and final part of the shootout. He’d be unable to improve further though, and would line up P10 for the Sprint race.
Recovery drive to claim final point in the Sprint
As the field was released from behind the Safety Car and the Sprint got underway, many drivers opted to switch to Intermediates immediately. With George pitting on the second lap, he lost time and was overhauled by Stroll and Daniel Ricciardo.
George began his comeback after a second Safety Car restart at the expense of Stroll at La Source. He was then elevated to P10 when Sergio Perez headed through the gravel trap.
Lap 9 would bring about another La Source move for George as he got past Esteban Ocon, and he repeated that feat a lap later on Ricciardo to move into the final points-paying position.
After a time penalty had been applied to Lewis Hamilton, George finished just six hundredths shy of his team mate in eighth.
A charge through the field
Starting in eighth – the second highest on the Medium tyre – George lost positions off the line and dropped to P11. Having made his way past the McLaren of Lando Norris, George then began to pile the pressure on Stroll on Lap 5.
Lap 6 would see the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team driver move past the damaged Ferrari of Carlos Sainz and up into ninth. George continued to climb the order as others pitted for fresh tyres and by Lap 11, he was in sixth.
Having finally got past Stroll with a move round the outside of Les Combes on Lap 17, George pitted for Softs on lap 23 – despite a brief rain shower – and re-joined in P16.
Then the overtakes came thick and fast. First up was Logan Sargeant at the first part of Stavelot, followed swiftly by Zhou Guanyu and then Lando Norris. With multiple cars ahead heading for the pits as well, George gained eight positions in three laps and was faster than race leader Max Verstappen just after the race’s halfway point.
By Lap 28, Kevin Magnussen and Ocon ahead had also pitted, elevating George to P6, a position he would hold until the chequered flag fell rounding out a fantastic drive in difficult conditions.
George Russell, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One® Team driver:
"I really felt that I could have been up there with Lewis fighting for a podium for the Team today. Unfortunately, I was boxed in on the opening lap behind Oscar when he picked up damage at the first corner. That cost me a couple of positions and compromised my Grand Prix. After that it was a good race for us, and we have opened the gap in the Constructors’ by 51 points to third place."
"It has been an intense first half of the season for everyone in the Team, so we are looking forward to the break and the chance to switch off for a few weeks before we get back racing again at Zandvoort. We know our goal is to win races, and I still believe that we can do that this season."