The Williams Racing team had a solid qualifying session for Sunday’s Formula One season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix at the Sakhir circuit where George Russell will start the race from 15th place after setting a fastest time of 01:33.430s and speaking following the session, the Englishman said:
That performance was the absolute maximum today and I am really happy. Even though we have made a step closer to the front of the field, the Alfa has made an even greater step, so I wasn’t expecting to get into Q2 today. I am really pleased we managed to put a clean lap together, get the most out of it and sneak into Q2. It’s going to be a tough, long race but we need to capitalise where we can and not make any mistakes.
Nicholas Latifi starts the race from the 17th with a time of 01:31.936s and speaking following the action the Canadian said:
It was tough today and I am not completely satisfied. We have been struggling all weekend to find the right balance of the car, as well as get some consistency and driveability. However, the qualifying session for me was the best the car has felt so far this weekend. The wind switched around 180 degrees and the car handled completely differently, but I still struggled out there. It will be a long and exciting race tomorrow though and we will see what we can do.
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance with Williams Racing commented saying:
Following a solid practice session in the heat of the afternoon, both drivers were reasonably happy with their cars and ready for the qualifying session. We knew that the tyres would behave differently in the cooler conditions of the evening and we were also conscious of the big change in wind direction. To get the most out of the Q1 session we opted to complete three runs so that each driver could get a feel for the different conditions before they attacked the final run hard and with confidence. We had mixed fortunes with the yellow flags at the end of Q1 with Nicholas being unable to use DRS on the final straight as a result, but George largely unaffected.
George completed an excellent lap and, with some drivers missing out due to the yellows, he set a time quick enough for a place in Q2. Our decision to run three times in Q1 meant that we had no new Soft tyres left, but nonetheless, making Q2 was an excellent result and we can now plan to race with the Alfa Romeos and possibly with Tsunoda. Nicky couldn’t quite extract the same performance as George on this occasion, but he will start only two places back, and given his strong high fuel pace, he has an excellent chance to race with George.
The last couple of weeks in Bahrain have been intense and busy, but the team have worked very hard and as a result achieved a creditable result today, outpacing some fundamentally quicker cars. The dedication of all those who have been in Bahrain since the test, as well as all those who have supported from the UK, is outstanding and testament to a great team spirit.