George Russell did the impossible in Spa: the Briton managed to bring his FW43 up to the front row for the first time since Stroll's 2017 Italian Grand Prix (he was promoted from 4th to 2nd thanks to penalties) and Valtteri Bottas' 2014 German Grand Prix.
The Grove team performed extremely well since the early minutes of qualifying, as everyone hit the track with full wet tyres; both Russell and Nicholas Latifi stepped out wearing intermediates, meaning the rubber would've been ready and in the right window temperature after two or three laps and with a drying track. As time went by, both driver's lap times showed Williams choice was the right one: at the end of Q1 Russell had the fifth-best lap time.
Onto Q2, the track almost dried and Russell could only put his Williams in 8th, while Latifi also took a fantastic result finishing 12th. For the fourth time in his career, Russell gets into Q3 and does the impossible: after the red flag - deployed because of Lando Norris' hard crash at Eau Rouge - George went for his last attempt, clinching pole position for a few seconds. Ultimately though, Max Verstappen took pole position by being three-tenths faster than the Briton.
George Russell already started a Grand Prix from the front row, but he was driving a Mercedes, replacing Lewis Hamilton. This time, the seven-time world champion is back in third and is maybe worried by the incredible talent shown by this guy with a car that struggles to score points.
Russell did the impossible in Spa, but also gave Toto Wolff some thoughts. The race will not be an easy one for him, as Hamilton and fastest cars will attempt to pass him in the early stages of the race: it seems like Williams opted for a set-up suited for wet conditions, but if it's dry Russell will struggle from the start. Surely the team made all the right calls during the qualifying, helping its shining start to achieve this incredible result.
"It is an amazing feeling and we definitely did not expect to be starting on the front-row! The team did an incredible job to have me on the track at the right time, on the right tyres, with the right strategy," said Russell shortly after quali.
"The driving is one thing, but you need to have everything right around you and often in these moments, that is what it’s all about - added George - I’m so happy for everyone as it’s such a team effort and they did a fantastic job. We obviously had a great result in Hungary, and it feels like our hard work is starting to pay off and people are starting to recognise that.
That is a STONKING lap 🔥— Williams Racing (@WilliamsRacing) August 28, 2021
"I knew my last effort was a good lap. It was so tricky out there but because we’re not in Q3 every week, I had the luxury of really being able to put everything on the line and go for it. I had a really good feeling from lap one in FP3 in the wet and when it mattered, we put everything together and that was exceptional. This feeling is exactly what Formula One is all about. Qualifying is over now though and the race is tomorrow, so we need to make sure we have a good one".