George Russell takes over championship lead after Red Bull Ring success
- Credit: Zak Mauger
Another dominant FIA Formula Two performance has lifted George Russell into the championship lead for the first time this year after securing his fourth win of the season plus a podium place in Sunday's Sprint race.
Underpinning the weekend was the Norfolk racer's pole position at the Red Bull Ring in Austria, his second in a row, to beat title rival Lando Norris and claim the four championship points that go with the premium starting position.
Due to on-going issues with the new-for-2018 F2 car it was decided to start the races behind the safety car and when the grid was let off the leash Russell held off an early challenge from Norris before storming away. An early safety car interlude saw Russell take his mandatory pit stop and resume running behind those who elected to change tyres later and, as one by one they pitted, Russell edged closer to the lead, finally retaking the position when Artem Markelov took his stop on the 35th lap.
Left with a comfortable lead Russell raced to the flag to close to within two points of championship leader Norris, who was second.
'It wasn't easy, but we got the 25 points,' said Russell. 'It was a tricky scenario, whether to push to pass the guys who hadn't stopped or stay back and save the tyres.'
The top eight from race one are reversed to make up the grid positions for race two, with Russell quickly carving his way into second place in dominant fashion behind Markelov, who races for the Snetterton-based Russian Time team.
'Awesome race, P8 to P2 and the championship lead,' said Russell. 'It was fantastic and I'm really happy to be back on the podium again.'
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Russell's Austrian exploits have left him with a 10-point advantage over Norris as the series heads to Silverstone this weekend.
Adam Hatfield is being kept busy, contesting both the GT Cup and the Britcar series in which he gained another podium, at Oulton Park.
The Cranworth racer, who shared a Ginetta G40 with Darron Lewis, qualified third in the GT 4 category. 'I got a little boxed in at the start and that halted any progress. However third place is still a good result,' he said.