Russian Grand Prix 2020 – Qualifying

Nicholas Latifi (CDN) Williams Racing FW43. Russian Grand Prix, Saturday 26th September 2020. Sochi Autodrom, Sochi, Russia.

Qualifying Notes

  • George Russell qualified 14th and Nicholas Latifi 19th for the Russian Grand Prix
  • George reached Q2 for the sixth time this season and set his quickest time of the session with a 1:33.583
  • Nicholas clocked his only time of Q1 with a 1:35.066

Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance: We had a good day on the whole today and it was a shame that Nicholas couldn’t put his lap together in qualifying. We have pushed the car harder each session this weekend. Going in to FP3 we thought that we may have pushed things a bit too far, but by qualifying we were confident that we really had made good progress. The change of wind conditions this afternoon changed the balance and braking points a little, but the drivers and engineers were able to adapt to that quite quickly once the qualifying session began.

The team did a good job to give the drivers the opportunity to prepare their tyres for each run without having to fight with other drivers. Unfortunately, the need to look after the tyres on the outlap makes keeping the brakes hot difficult and Nicholas opened his lap with the brakes just out of our window, which cost him early in the lap. George had a slightly easier time with tyres and brakes and was able to exploit the car well in Q1. Having progressed to Q2 with only one set of new tyres, we opted to complete our run in the quiet middle phase of the session, and this worked well with George unhindered by other cars. Whilst we didn’t get to see the final laptime from Vettel, we can still be happy that we were genuinely in a fight with at least one Ferrari.

It is a long run to Turn 2 here and so we may have an opportunity to make some additional places early in the race. From there we will look to make as much progress as possible and see if we can again get close to the points scoring positions.

George Russell: That was more than we could have expected and hoped for, so I am very happy. Our goal was to out qualify both Haas and Alfa this weekend and we did a really good job to get ahead of them in Q1. In Q2, it was great to jump ahead of Sebastian as we only had one set of tyres. The car was feeling good, I was pleased with the lap and I think we are looking in really good shape for tomorrow.

The last couple of weekends we have been focusing more on the Sunday as we have recognised our Saturday pace has been good, but our Sunday pace has not quite matched it. We have rebalanced our quali and race pace here, which will put us in a good position tomorrow. I think Haas and Alfa still have the edge on us, so I think it will be a race to drive as quick as a I can and check my mirrors to make sure they are not going to overtake me.

Nicholas Latifi: I am disappointed with qualifying today. The session was dictated by the feeling I had on the brakes, and from the warm-up lap I wasn’t getting the bite on the brakes. I locked up and missed my first lap which then puts you on the back foot for your second lap. We need to investigate why as it was much worse than the practice sessions. Tomorrow will be interesting; we geared our car towards the race to be more competitive so that we are able to fight. I am optimistic that we will be able to move forwards, it is a difficult track for overtaking and to follow so a good start will be key. All in all, we will push to move forwards.

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