Russell: 'I don't know how we keep managing to qualify so high'

Williams driver George Russell has admitted that his spectacular recent run of form in qualifying is a mystery... The post Russell: 'I don't know how we keep managing to qualify so high' appeared first on F1i.com.

Russell: 'I don't know how we keep managing to qualify so high'

Williams driver George Russell has admitted that his spectacular recent run of form in qualifying is a mystery to him.

Russell made it through to the final round of qualifying in the last two races in Austria and Britain. Before that he has become a regular fixture in the second round of qualifying.

That's despite the Williams FW43B being one of the slowest cars on the grid, with Russell's team mate Nicholas Latifi normally failing to make the cut at the end of the first round.

Russell's race performances have yet to match his Saturday efforts, but the 23-year-old from King's Lynn said that this was actually a more accurate indication of the car's true pace - and that it was their qualifying success that was baffling.

"Ultimately, I don't think we really deserved to be any higher than where we finished," he told Motorsport.com this week.

"I don't know how we keep managing to qualify so high," he said. "Somehow come qualifying we manage to put it inside the top ten or top 12.

"On paper have the ninth quickest car in every single session except qualifying. FP1, FP2, FP3 and the race, we're the ninth quickest.

"Come Sunday, when you have eight faster cars or whatever it is starting behind you, it's so difficult to keep them there.

"[P12] is a fair result, and we probably didn't really deserve to be any higher than that is. It always seems to be the case, we're going backwards on a Sunday.

"The cars behind were three, four or five tenths quicker than us, and when you've got that sort of pace advantage it's easy.

"They seem to be better on the tyres than us as well, so it was always going to be a race of looking in the mirrors and trying to keep these cars at bay."

The lack of race pace means that despite his recent top ten performances in qualifying, he's yet to pick up any championship points for Williams since his debut in 2019.

"It's a little bit disappointing, always after the races," he admitted. "[But] top 12 in all of the last four races except the one we retired - fighting for points in three out of four of those races - I guess we would have definitely taken that before this."

Quite why he's able to over-perform to such a degree in qualifying remains a mystery.

"I don't think it's because we've done a bad job on a Sunday, it's just because we're somehow doing an excellent job in qualifying," he said.

"We're not focussing on qualifying, we're focussing everything onto the race," he added. "So I don't know if we improve or the others make mistakes.

"When it's one single lap and the pressure's on, a one tenth or two tenths mistake makes the difference," he pointed out. "In a race you get into the groove, you get into the rhythm, and you find the limit over the course of a few laps. And then you can make hay at that.

"We just need to do a really good job with the procedures, getting everything right, the tyres in the window, right place on the track.

"I feel confident in the car in that situation, and I think just between us all we do probably a better job than most, clearly."

Russell's superlative qualifying performances have certainly caught the eye of those in the F1 paddock, and he was acclaimed by home fans at Silverstone last weekend.

It's made him favourite to succeed Valtteri bottas at Mercedes if the team decides to shake up its driver line-up for 2022.

Russell previously drove for the team in the 2019 Sakhir GP in place of an unwell Lewis Hamilton and came close to winning the race ahead of Bottas before suffering a pit stop issue and a late puncture.

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Steiner expects Schumacher extension: 'Agreements are in place'

Haas F1 boss Guenther Steiner says he's confident that Mick Schumacher will sign an extension to his current... The post Steiner expects Schumacher extension: 'Agreements are in place' appeared first on F1i.com.

Steiner expects Schumacher extension: 'Agreements are in place'

Haas F1 boss Guenther Steiner says he's confident that Mick Schumacher will sign an extension to his current contract with the team within a matter of weeks.

The 22-year-old son of seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher joined the team at the start of the year, making his F1 debut in Bahrain in March after winning the 2020 Formula 2 title.

An uncompetitive cars had meant that he is yet to finish in the top ten or score any points for the team.

But has consistently out-performed his team mate, fellow rookie Nikita Mazepin during the first ten rounds of 2021, although he came second best behind the Russian at the most recent British Grand Prix after the pair clashed at the start of the sprint qualifying race.

While Steiner confirmed that Mazepin already has a contract for next season - "everything is signed there, everything's fine" - Schumacher stirred interest last week by seeming to dodge questions about his own contract status.

"Obviously, my focus right now is really on here, now, and on the race," he told reporters at Silverstone. "We have the summer break, the summer shutdown coming soon, and that's really when I will be completely on that and then focus on that."

But Steiner gave a more confident impression, while acknowledging that the negotiations had been more complicated than usual given Schumacher's existing ties to Ferrari.

"There are a few things which just need to be sorted out," he told reporters last weekend. "It's a three-way contract, obviously, because he's got one with Ferrari.

"Because of [the] three-way it's always more difficult than when it is a straightforward one-to-one contact.

"There need to be a few t's crossed and a few i's dotted, and then we will get there," he added. [Mick is not] trying to say he's not signed. There are agreements in place."

There had been rumours that Schumacher might be snapped up by Alfa Romeo, which is also Ferrari-affiliated.

A change of team would allow the young German to show what he can do in a better car, after this year's Haas VF-21 proved deeply uncompetitive with few upgrades and developments available.

“These are rumours. This is Formula 1 playing up a bit," Steiner said of the Alfa stories. "At the moment it looks like we will be racing with the same driver pairing next year.

"We still have to clarify a few details, but everything else is clear. It won’t take long.”

Steiner added that it would be better for Schumacher's growth and development to stay where he was for a while longer.

“What is important for Mick to stay in the same team, to bring in a bit of a constant," he insisted. " He knows the people now, he knows our processes.

"I think he also likes to be part of the team. That’s why nothing speaks against him being with us remains.”

And Steiner insisted that if Schumacher did stay with the team in 2022 then he would be rewarded with a more competitive car.

“We’ll have a better car. How good, I don’t know yet. I’m confident that it will be okay. At the moment, nothing speaks against the fact that we won’t be as good or better as Alfa Romeo.”

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