George Russell emerged from a tough weekend at the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit with three top-six finishes in his Lanan Racing machine and his points lead intact in the BRDC Formula 4 Championship.Sixteen-year-old Russell, in his rookie season of car racing, was fastest in one of Friday’s test sessions, but suffered a puzzling lack of speed when the competition began in earnest.He qualified fifth and finished in the same position in race one, which would be his best result of the weekend. “We don’t really know what happened to be honest,” he said. “We just didn’t seem to have the pace we had on Friday. The data showed a tiny bit of understeer that caused problems onto the long straights, which cost us about half a second.“Then in the race there was a little bit of a tangle in front of me, and the driver I was tucked in behind slammed on the brakes. I couldn’t avoid him and hit him with about a 20mph speed differential, and that damaged the front wing. I was losing 5km/h on the straights and in the corners it was a nightmare to handle.“Luckily I’d chosen my two new tyres for this race, so for the first four or five laps I was able to keep with the leading pack, but after the tyres started to degrade it was tough. I saw Raoul Hyman, my main title rival, catching me. Due to my lack of straight-line speed he passed me on the straight, but he left just a car’s width of a gap at the next corner and I managed to slot it up the inside, and the guy behind me got past Raoul as well.”
Sunday morning’s second race began on a damp track, with a few of the runners selecting slick tyres. On his wet-weather rubber, Russell battled from fourth on the grid to pass Hyman for the lead on lap three, but the track was drying rapidly. George was powerless to prevent the slick-tyred runners from passing and he finished sixth, with the consolation of being the top wet-tyred contender.“I managed to get into the lead and was having a good battle with Hyman,” he said, “but then the sun came out and the track dried instantly. The guys on slicks ended up eating us, but it’s just one of those things. You gamble and it works out or it doesn’t.”With the grid for race three decided by fastest laps across the first two races – and Russell having a damaged wing in the only dry-weather race held so far – that left him down in 10th on the grid for race three. But a rocket opening lap took him to fifth. He was passed by Alex Palou on lap three – the Spaniard using new tyres in all three races as he was only contesting this round as a one-off – and finished sixth.“I made a good start but had a bit of trouble with Palou,” said George. “He was getting in the way a little bit, and once he’d passed me that was that. I couldn’t move any further forward.“We’ve definitely had some handling issues and we need to take a good look at the chassis. Silverstone has been our strongest circuit all year so it was a bit of a shock not to get a win. But getting good points in all three races was vital – it could have been a lot worse.”Russell therefore carries an 11-point championship lead into the next round, which is on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit – where he took a race win earlier this season – on 30th/31st August.