Williams revealed the strategy employed for George Russell’s Q3 stint, which was praised by Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff as “risky but clever”. Russell was able to line up second, behind polesitter Max Verstappen as a result.
While Russell’s initial lap on full wets lead to a provisional ninth place, Williams head of vehicle performance Dave Robson revealed that it was part of Russell’s effort to build up confidence before going “all in” at the end of Q3.
“That final phase in Q3, obviously we left on that full wet while knowing that we had plenty of time to make the pitstop,” Robson commented. “It worked out very well. He obviously had pretty good track position. So it all just came together nicely.
“George [Russell] was very happy that it was inter conditions so we made the stop and then we felt that we could either do two pushing laps or, with the track drying quite quickly, we could just go all in and aim for that one good lap at the end.”
An additional consideration for Russell’s final Q3 lap was that he was running on used intermediates, in an effort to not waste the limited supply of compounds, which led to the team sending both drivers out early on in this tire compound, opting out of exploratory laps in an aggressive measure.
The track conditions in Q1, with the delay in Q3 due to Norris’ crash, meant the intermediates were lightly used, making the decision less disadvantageous than expected for Williams.
“I don’t think it was a huge loss [Russell running used inters in Q3],” Robson admitted. “Once we got him in that position his lap was extremely good. He just made the absolute most in every corner of what we were able to give him.
“We did know that that first set of inters from Q1 we’d used when it was really quite wet. So they weren’t badly damaged when we pitted off them.
“Obviously, we never dreamed of getting P2. But we were happy they weren’t bad,” Robson concluded.