Williams boss Jost Capito was bewildered by George Russell’s runner-up performance in qualifying at Spa, but the incredible achievement also drew the highest praise from the team’s special advisor Jenson Button.
Regardless of whether Russell and his acolytes deserved to be rewarded with a podium after Sunday’s botched event, there was no denying that the Williams driver’s outstanding flyer in Saturday’s shootout was a hallmark of greatness.
And Button is undeniably a fine connoisseur when it comes to appreciating F1’s remarkable young guns.
“Immediately after the lap I got a text message from Jenson, and Jenson wrote, ‘That was one of the best laps I have ever seen in my life,’” said Capito.
“That sums it up! If that comes from Jenson, just after he’s finished the lap, that sums it up, he knows what he’s talking about… It was an absolutely stunning performance from George.”
Russell’s stunner in qualifying, which included a flat-out passage through a damp Eau Rouge, was 0.013s faster than Lewis Hamilton, but a full 2.416s quicker that Valtteri Bottas, the man he will presumably replace at Mercedes next season.
Given Russell’s trouncing of Mercedes’ drivers in qualifying, Capito was asked, tongue-in-cheack, if the Briton could be tempted to remain with the Grove-based outfit next season.
“That’s a difficult question – you should ask him about that!” said the Williams boss as he laughed.
“I think this year we’ve had a couple of really great moments together that we enjoyed… When he came for the [post-qualifying] press conference I said, look, George, these moments, nobody will take these moments away from you and me, they will be with us forever.
“He deserves to get the seat at Mercedes,” Capito added, on a serious note. “We will not be in the position next year to win the championship, that is for sure.
“I think he enjoys the season with us and for sure if he won’t get the offer from Mercedes… [he’d be] happy to stay with us because I think we bond so well together now as a team.
“I think we have a great confidence in each other and a belief in each other – and that is shown by the results.”
Spa’s truncated race and the free bag of points that came with it allowed Williams to add another ten points to its tally which now stands at 20 in the Constructors’ championship, or 17 points clear of Alfa Romeo racing, the penultimate team in the standings.
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