For George Russell, his sixteenth place in the qualification of the Hungarian Grand Prix on Saturday felt like a huge liberation. At the end of a disastrous season half, Williams has finally found the connection with the middle class in Formula 1.
"I really have no words for this", Russell stammered Saturday, after not only teammate Robert Kubica in his best qualification of the year, but also Daniel Ricciardo of Renault and Racing Point duo Lance Stroll and Sergio Pérez.
The 21-year-old Briton had almost even reached Q2 for the first time, he was only 0.053 slower than Romain Grosjean van Haas. "Before this weekend I could not have dreamed that we would qualify on our own before the final start row. It really feels like we have turned a black page," said the overjoyed Russell.
Williams made some aerodynamic updates to the car for the German Grand Prix last week, which only really work properly at the Hungaroring. "The car really came to life," Russell said. "We now understand much better how we can use the car and the tires."
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Kubica picked up the first World Cup point of this year last week
The illustrious Williams has been active in Formula 1 continuously since 1977. The team won nine constructors' titles and delivered the world champion to the drivers seven times. In 1997, the British racing team was the last to win prizes.
In recent years Williams has been struggling with financial problems that led to poor performance this season. Russell and Kubica always drove to the qualification in Hungary at the back of the field, far behind the other teams.
Last week in Germany, Kubica brought the team to tenth place the first World Cup point of the year. But that was mainly because no fewer than seven cars fell out in the rain and the two cars from Alfa Romeo were given a hefty time penalty. The appeal submitted by the Italian team will not be processed until 24 September.
Team boss Claire Wiliams. (Photo: Pro Shots)
Team boss Williams can't be happy with one World Cup point
Team boss Claire Williams was relieved after that first World Cup point, but nothing more. "For me personally, one point is not something to make fun of," said the daughter of team founder Frank Williams. "I also don't think that many people on the team are in ecstasy now."
Williams has 3567 points in Formula 1 history, only Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes and Red Bull are higher on that ranking. "It would feel wrong with our history to be very excited from one point," said Claire Williams.
"Everyone on the team is working extremely hard this year. It has been a very tough season for us so far and we are grateful to accept this point. But we are far from where we want to be."
"That was everything boys." A stunning effort from @ GeorgeRussell63 and we JUST miss out on # Q2 in P16 👏 # RK88 ends the session P20 and it's onwards to race day! #HungarianGP 🇭🇺Avatar
"We can go into the summer break satisfied"
Russell also praised the team's hard work in tough times. "It gives a wonderful feeling that all the work is now starting to pay off. There will be even more improvements in the rest of the season."
Due to a grid penalty for Alfa Romeo driver Antonio Giovinazzi, Russell can even start 15th in Hungary on Sunday. "Regardless of the race, after this qualification, we can go into the summer break with satisfaction", says the only driver who is still scoreless in Formula 1 this year.
With Max Verstappen on pole position, the Grand Prix of Hungary starts on Sunday at 3.10 pm.
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