Fuel problem weighs down George Russell

George Russell in action at Circuit Paul Ricard.

George Russell in action at Circuit Paul Ricard. - Credit: Thomas Suer / suer.photo

George Russell underlined his credentials as one Britain's brightest rising stars at the opening round of the FIA European Formula Three Championship at Circuit Paul Ricard.

However, despite taking the fight in qualifying to the all-conquering Italian Prema Powerteam, who have won the title for the last four years in a row, Russell left the French circuit with a 39-point deficit to Nick Cassidy, who was the bridesmaid in all three races.

The Norfolk racer joined the new Hitech GP squad this season in an effort to break the monopoly of Prema and succeed in splitting their top drivers in the second qualifying session.

'Mega day today' confirmed Russell after posting the impressive lap times. 'Qualified P4, P2 and P2 for the thee races. Just 0.01sec off pole in Q2! Awesome start to my team's debut season in FIA F3'.

However, Russell's celebrations didn't last long as his car did not have the required 1kg of fuel left in the system after the second qualifying session to enable a sample to be checked. This left Russell able to start race one from P4, but he was relegated to the back of the field for the remaining two races.

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Russell put his disappointment behind him to ensure he would stand on the race one rostrum behind series favourite Lance Stroll and Cassidy.

'I managed to move up into third place at the start, but I was left without a chance against the two Prema drivers. They were simply quicker and deserved the first two places,' he admitted. 'Personally I am happy with my third place. For me and for my team Hitech GP. This is the first time at Le Castellet and the team has done a great job.'

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In the next two races the local racer started from 21st place and raced up to 11th in the first, just missing out on earning championship points, before taking 18th in the final event

'A weekend with a lot of positives,' reflected Russell.

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