George Russell back in title hunt after highs and lows at Paul Ricard
- Credit: Archant
George Russell put himself firmly back into the FIA Formula Two title hunt by claiming his third victory of the season after taking his maiden pole position at the Paul Richard Circuit in France – before it turned sour in Sunday's second race.
After the nightmare of Monaco, Norfolk racer Russell confidently bounced back with a stunning qualifying lap of the French track.
'We've had the pace but never quite optimised it either due to me or due to the car set-up or something that was holding us back,' said Russell of his pole position lap.
'We learned from our mistakes in the previous races and fully optimised it today, so that was the reason for our great performance.'
The AMG Mercedes Formula 1 reserve driver raced away at the start of race one, helped when championship leader Lando Norris and fellow second row starter Artem Markelov both stalled. Russell easily controlled the race, mastering rain-affected parts of the circuit and a late challenge from Sergio Sette Camara to seal victory which left him just seven points off the series lead.
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'It was extremely tricky at the beginning, especially being the first car into every corner.
'We managed the conditions well and most importantly held on to take our third win of the season,' said Russell.
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With the top eight finishers reversed to make up Sunday's grid, Russell was aiming for a top-four finish, to close in on championship leader Norris, but was pushed off the grid with a throttle-related problem, which left him 17th, two laps down.
'Frustrated for myself and the team, completely out of our hands,' he said. 'Let's hope something changes for the good of the championship and every driver racing in it.'
Shipdham-based Elite Motorsport consolidated their lead in the Ginetta Junior Championship with lead driver Adam Smalley taking a brace of victories at the Croft Circuit in Yorkshire.
To cap a brilliant weekend for the local team the third race victory went to Fin Green, his maiden in the series.
Smalley led races one and two from start to finish but became embroiled in a fight for second in race three and finished sixth.