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King's Lynn born George Russell takes second consecutive podium at Hungarian Grand Prix for Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One team

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George Russell took a second consecutive podium after the first pole position of his Formula One career at the Hungarian Grand Prix at the weekend.

His third place finish completed Mercedes’ second consecutive double podium and puts him fourth in the drivers’ championship behind Carlos Sainz.

Russell had become the 105th different driver to start a race in the first grid spot in the history of the Formula One world championship after Saturday’s qualifying.

George Russell. Photo: Steve Etherington
George Russell. Photo: Steve Etherington

The Lynn-born driver had struggled early on after a tumultuous start to the weekend for his Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One team after they battled to generate tyre temperature during the three free practice sessions with Russell bringing out a yellow flag and only being able to manage fifth.

Despite the disappointing practice sessions, Russell came out in the first part of qualifying to produce a lap time good enough for second and therefore easily progressed into the second stage of qualifying.

Despite setting the fastest sector two times on his first attempt, he seemed to struggle more and could only manage seventh and behind his team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

George Russell in the Monaco Grand Prix. Photo: LAT Images
George Russell in the Monaco Grand Prix. Photo: LAT Images

In the final stage of qualifying, the driver from Tydd then went out to produce a lap fast enough for second on older tyres but that was subsequently beaten by the Ferrari drivers.

After a switch to a new set of soft compound tyres, Russell began his final flying lap – the last of the drivers to do so – and found improvements to his previous lap in every sector and gave him pole position by four hundredths of a second over Ferrari’s Sainz.

Russell lined up on the grid for his 73rd Grand Prix ahead of Sainz on the soft compound of tyre as the rain-drops began to fall on the Hungaroring.

George Russell holds off Alfa Romeo driver Valtteri Bottas. Photo: LAT Images
George Russell holds off Alfa Romeo driver Valtteri Bottas. Photo: LAT Images

Unaffected by the rain, when the five lights went out, Russell had a strong start and led from the two Ferraris and managing a virtual safety car restart with a two-second lead.

On lap 17, Russell dived into the pits to avert a threat from the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc and put on some fresh medium tyres but a slow stop meant he was released into fifth among a gaggle of Alpine cars.

While Russell set the fastest lap of the race at the time, the front-running cars ahead of him pitted which moved him back up into the lead of the race.

In the subsequent laps, Russell came under intense pressure from the faster Ferrari of Leclerc and, after a display of strong defending, eventually succumbed to the Monegasque driver.

After coming under threat from the second Ferrari of Sainz, Russell pitted for the second and final time onto another set of medium tyres that released him into the pack in sixth.

Russell then overtook the Red Bull of Sergio Perez for fifth and pit stops for the drivers ahead of him moved him back into the podium positions for third.

He also managed to capitalise on the struggles of Leclerc on the hard tyres and pulled off a DRS-assisted overtake on the Ferrari – promoting him to second.

Unfortunately, Russell’s potential for his best points haul of his career was scuppered by his Mercedes team-mate Hamilton as he passed the former Wisbech Grammar School pupil with relative ease as more rain fell in the closing stages of the Grand Prix.

Russell said: “I had a really strong start and it was a first good stint.

“We pitted quite early on both stints and tried to keep the tyres out until the end, as well as pushing as fast as possible at the same time.

“Towards the end on the mediums when the rain started to come down, I struggled and lost temperature.

“It was challenging to manage the tyres, so there’s lots to look into and see where we could have done better.

“It was an amazing job by the team though to get pole position on Saturday and double podium on Sunday.

“We are making progress and I am proud of the work everybody has put into it. We will come back to the second half of the season with a reset, refocussed and will try to fight for some victories.”

The 2022 Formula One season continues after the summer break for the Belgian Grand Prix – where Russell recorded his first podium – on August 28.

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