Young Brit scores win, pole and fastest lap
George Russell scored a stunning clean sweep of win, pole position and fastest lap in the Formula Renault Eurocup at Jerez as a wildcard entrant among the cream of motorsport’s young up-and-coming talents.The 16-year-old from Wisbech, who has raced this season in the Formula Renault ALPS series, had a one-off outing in the more-prestigious Eurocup at the Spanish circuit with French team Tech 1 Racing, and led McLaren Formula 1 junior driver and Eurocup champion Nyck de Vries from start to finish.Russell had never driven a car run by Tech 1 until the free practice sessions on Friday. “I knew I would be on the back foot a little bit,” he said, “and that increased even more when the first session was red-flagged half an hour before it was due to finish because of fog. That meant I’d only done 30 laps in the Tech 1 car before qualifying.”Nevertheless, with the field split into two groups for qualifying, George was third fastest in his group, just a tenth of a second from the fastest time. This put him sixth on the grid for race one, in which he finished fifth.“We were P1 after my first two flying laps,” he said, “and you would never usually consider a third quick lap at Jerez because the peak of the tyres is normally gone. So I experimented with something different. I was a bit annoyed because if I’d taken the same lines I’d have been on pole.“I did a late lunge on Bruno Bonifacio into the hairpin into the first race to take fifth, and with the clear track in front of me I set the third-fastest lap, even though I’d been behind him at the start of it. That was good, and I caught up Alexander Albon but I couldn’t overtake him. I almost got him in the last corner, but not quite.”
For race two, Russell edged out de Vries in his qualifying group to take pole position, and he led the race from start to finish and claimed fastest lap.“Eurocup is higher up than ALPS so it was a really good feeling to take my first pole and first win in Formula Renault,” he said. “It was a really good lap to get pole, especially among people who have been in Eurocup all season. There was still a little bit of time left in there, but I did two laps good enough for pole and set the new Formula Renault lap record for Jerez.“I got a good start and Nyck got in behind me. I got my head down and set fastest lap on lap two, and managed to open up a lead of 1.5 to 2.0 seconds in four laps. I really had it under control, but then the safety car came out so I wasn’t too happy. On the restart Nyck got a run into Turn 1 and I had to get defensive, so I closed the door and forced him to the outside. I then pushed as hard as I could through the next really fast corner and pulled out a half-second gap straight away. I was pushing every lap, and I managed to pull away each lap to win by just over 1.5 seconds.”Boosted by that win, George now sets his sights on the final round of the BRDC Formula 4 Championship, where he will bid to win the title on home ground at Snetterton in Norfolk next weekend, the 25th/26th October.