George Russell takes 3rd in Baku FIA Formula 2 Qualifying
George Russell will start the Azerbaijan FIA Formula 2 Feature Race from 3rd position after a frantic Qualifying Session at the Baku City Circuit.
The Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport Reserve Driver set the 5th fastest time in the sole Practice session earlier today, as he acclimatised himself with the new circuit well. Russell went into his first Qualifying at Baku content with his first laps around the 6.003km street circuit.
An early red flag disrupted proceedings, as BWT Arden's Maximilian Günther stopped on the exit of turn one, requiring all drivers to return to pits for a brief stoppage.
Once the action got going again, many drivers were attempting to set themselves up to benefit from the slipstream effect down the 2km long back straight and final sector.
Russell set the 4th fastest time after the first Qualifying attempts by all drivers, topped by Campos Racing's Luca Ghiotto.
The ART Grand Prix driver headed out for his second run slightly earlier than expected, due to the high risk of Yellow and Red Flags towards the end of the session.
Russell was on track duelling for track position with fellow Briton Lando Norris as the two brought their tyres and brakes up to temperature for their flying laps.
Russell managed to hook up two very strong sectors on his flying lap, neck and neck with his fellow Brit - who had dropped behind Russell going onto his flying lap.
As they crossed the line at the end of their final laps, Russell initially took pole position, before being deposed by Norris in his slipstream by just over 0.1s. Both drivers were then usurped by DAMS driver Alexander Albon, who maximised a slipstream and two good sectors to snatch pole from the pair of them.
The session was red flagged before the clock reached zero, as Nicholas Latifi span his DAMS F2/18 at turn seven - stalling in the process and partially blocking the track.
This left Russell 3rd fastest in Qualifying and starting the first Formula 2 race of the weekend from the clean side of the second row.
George Russell "It’s my first time coming here so I didn’t know what to expect. Obviously, I was just building up the confidence throughout. Going into qualifying I was confident in the car, but I knew that there was more in me after practice and that I just needed a clean session.
I think there was more in there, we had a bit of a risky strategy and went with a bit more downforce to try and catch the driver ahead and take the slipstream at the end of the lap.
But I misjudged the timing of the car ahead of me and ended up not gaining anything on the straight and using more downforce than we probably needed."
Baku is famous for generating unpredictable races, with a high chance of a Safety Car due to the tight nature of the punishing street circuits. Previous races have seen driver's winning from the back of the field, red flag generating crashes, as well as some brilliant action due to the long main straight - allowing driver's to go up to four cars wide into turn one.
The FIA F2 Feature Race starts at 12:00 (GMT +4) for the 29 lap race, shown live on Sky Sports F1 HD.