Podium for George Russell in Spa FIA F2 Feature Race
George Russell extended his FIA Formula 2 Championship lead by finishing on the podium at the opening race of the weekend at Spa-Francorchamps, taking 3rd position ahead of main rivals.
The Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport Reserve Driver qualified 2nd on the grid for the FIA F2 Feature Race, putting him on the front-row alongside Nyck de Vries.
F2 were greeted with tricky conditions, following a rain shower in the third part of Formula One qualifying which left a slippery and 'green' track for the drivers.
Russell started from the outside of the front row, having a lot of wheel-spin at the start on the slippery side of the track - slotting into 3rd position at the 'La Source' hairpin, just behind Sergio Sette Camara and leader de Vries.
His main championship leader Lando Norris was just behind Russell and tried to challenge on the long run down into 'Les Combes' - which Russell resisted well and began to settle into the race.
The ART Grand Prix driver maintained 3rd position early on, managing the 'Soft' compound Pirelli Tyres early on in the race - before pitting on lap 9, at the same time as rival Norris.
A good pitstop saw Russell maintain position, with Sette Camara and de Vries stopping one and two laps later respectively. The Briton set the fastest lap of the race at the time, as the front four began to close up while they battled through the cars running on the alternate strategy - in order to gain track position.
A Virtual Safety Car was deployed on Lap 15 following an engine failure and a fire for Nirei Fukuzumi, causing a four lap halt to race proceedings. The race got back underway on Lap 19, with Russell under serious pressure from Norris behind as the two championship leader's went wheel-to-wheel down the straight and into 'Les Combes'. Russell held firm to maintain 3rd position, before he managed to steadily move out of DRS threat from Norris and continued to manage the gap to Sette Camara ahead and Norris behind.
Russell held 3rd to chequered flag, outscoring his main rival by three points and extended his FIA F2 Championship lead after the first race of the weekend.
George Russell "I think we just didn’t really get the balance in the right window today. We’ve had great race pace all season, but Spa’s been a bit of a different circuit to others with the tyre management, so I think we just didn’t get it right today and we’ve a lot of work to do on my side with the team to sort that out for tomorrow.
I think in a race like that, where I felt like I was struggling, to still come away with third position I was very pleased with that."
Tomorrow will see Russell start from 6th on the grid for the partially reversed Sprint Race, which takes place at 10:50 (GMT+2) and is shown live on Sky Sports F1 HD.
Photos: FIA Formula 2 Media