Russell hails Hungarian pole lap his best in F1

George Russell celebrates his first Formula 1 pole position at the Hungarian Grand Prix

George Russell has labelled the qualifying lap which secured him pole position for the Hungarian Grand Prix was the best he’s done in Formula 1.

The Brit recorded his first ever F1 pole with a lap as the chequered flag fell at the end of the session to deny Carlos Sainz.

It’s the latest in a strong of strong qualifying results, Russell having developed a reputation for his single lap pace during his time with Williams to earn the nickname ‘Mr Saturday’.

That was highlighted by second place at last year’s Belgian Grand Prix, though the Brit suggests his pole lap in Hungary tops that.

“I don’t think the feeling of this pole and the feeling of that Spa lap, I don’t think I’ll ever have qualifyings that will ever come close to these two feelings,” Russell suggested.

“Obviously this was my first [pole]. As a team, we struggled so much at Williams, we were so far behind, and to get that second was massive.

“It’s what racing is about. This is why I wake up every single day. And I want to be world champion because feeling like this is something you can’t really dream of.

Pressed for which of the two laps he rates more highly, he eventually conceded the Hungarian pole topped the pile.

“I think the nature of this circuit, when you get everything absolutely hooked up, nothing comes close because it’s so fast, so flowing, and every corner leads on to the next,” he explained.

“So difficult to compare [Hungary and Spa-Francorchamps], very different conditions, but pure driving, probably the one today.”

Russell’s performance also resulted in the team’s first pole position of the year, and its first since Lewis Hamilton started from top spot at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, the penultimate round of 2021.

It comes after a rough start not only to the season for Mercedes, but to the weekend too after the squad struggled for set-up direction on Friday.

“For us, as a team, it’s massive,” Russell said.

“Yesterday was probably our toughest Friday of the whole season, we were all here until 11pm last night scratching our heads.

“Morale was pretty down and we felt pretty lost.

“To come back, grab pole position 24 hours later, it’s just such a feeling because I know what we went through last night.”

Russell ended Friday’s second practice session in eighth place but both he and Lewis Hamilton were left confused by the performance of their cars.

That saw the team go the wrong way on set-up, which was easy enough to reverse for Saturday.

“I think today, we just got it perfectly in the window,” Russell suggested.

“That last lap, I went round Turn 1 and I was 0.15s up. I went around Turn 2, I was 0.3s up, and everything was just perfectly in the window.

“When you’re on one of those laps, and you’re in the groove, in the rhythm, it just keeps on coming.

“I think everybody struggled quite a lot with tyres, a lot of people struggled this morning in the wet with the tyres, and we’ve been going all over the place to try and get our heads around it.

“Fortunately, we sort of nailed it on that last run.”

Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix gets underway at 23:00 AEST.

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