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Russell left clutching at straws as championship lead is cut in Hungary

PUBLISHED: 09:53 01 August 2018 | UPDATED: 09:54 01 August 2018

The concentration is evident in George Russell's eyes as the Norfolk racer gets ready to set a qualifying time around the Hungaroring Picture: Zak Mauger/FIA F2.

The concentration is evident in George Russell's eyes as the Norfolk racer gets ready to set a qualifying time around the Hungaroring Picture: Zak Mauger/FIA F2.

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George Russell could do little about Lando Norris cutting into his FIA Formula Two championship lead as the Norfolk racer was stymied by a clutch issue in the opening race supporting the Hungarian Grand Prix.

George Russell carving his way up the order in the second race at the Hungaroring Picture: Zak Mauger/FIA F2.George Russell carving his way up the order in the second race at the Hungaroring Picture: Zak Mauger/FIA F2.

“Second time this season we have failed to even start the race due to a mechanical failure,” reflected the Mercedes Formula 1 reserve driver.

With Norris claiming second in the feature race he cut Russell’s advantage to 19 points, and with the local racer having to start race two from the back of the field, he was looking at that gap diminishing even further by the end of the weekend.

The meeting had started well for Russell when he proved quickest in free practice and followed up by claiming fourth on the grid for the main feature race on Saturday.

Russell had followed his ART Grand Prix team-mate Jack Aitken out of the pits for their first crack at setting a qualifying time with the pairing ending up top of the timesheets before bolting on another new set of tyres.

Russell took two laps to warm up his tyres, but had to slalom between drivers exiting the pitlane on their ‘out laps’ causing him to lose precious time with a lap only good enough for fourth.

With title rival Norris starting two places behind him, Russell racer was content that he could keep his 39-point series lead intact.

However, it wasn’t to be as Russell headed into the pits for his first installation lap on race day, the clutch failed leaving the local racer unable to select a gear. T

he team swapped a sensor, but Russell was unable to complete the race and saw his series lead slashed.

“Head up and we keep pushing,” he said.

Starting from the back of the grid for Sunday’s shorter Sprint race Russell carved his way up the race order to grab the final championship point while rival Norris finished fourth, cutting his points deficit to Russell to 12.

“P8 from P20 at arguably the hardest track to overtake on after Monaco – we’ll take that,” said Russell after his terrific drive.

There is no holiday just yet for Russell who has two days of F1 testing coming up with the Mercedes AMG Formula 1 team.

“I can’t wait,” he said.

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