King’s Lynn’s George Russell paid tribute to former teammate Anthoine Hubert.

MOTOR SPORT: George Russell finished the Belgian Grand Prix in 15th position, on a weekend that will be remembered for the death of his former GP3 teammate Anthoine Hubert.

The King’s Lynn born racer said: “It was a difficult day for everyone with the devastating news. Anthoine was a great guy and I hope we did him proud, racing in his honour.”

Formula 1 returned after the annual summer break to Spa-Francorchamps for Round 14 of the World Championship but was overshadowed by the death of the Frenchman in an earlier F2 race at the circuit.

Qualifying on Saturday saw numerous red flag interruptions affect the F1 session. 

Russell’s ROKiT Williams Racing teammate Robert Kubica and Antonio Giovinazzi both suffered engine failures, which wrecked all but one of his qualifying attempts – meaning only his initial flying lap was unaffected, as he qualified 19th with a time of 1.47.548.

Numerous power unit component penalties saw Russell elevated to 15th on the grid and he survived the melee at the first turn, created by a collision between Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen. That caused the Williams driver to take to the escape road, losing ground and positions.

He emerged in 17th position, just behind a train of cars, despite the straight line deficit of the car.

His one-stop strategy saw him run a long first stint before changing tyres on lap 30 and going through to finish 15th.

“I didn’t make a good start; I was forced to the outside and then I saw Raikkonen going through the air with a lot of debris,” said Russell. “I committed to the escape road, then when I came back on Verstappen was going slow, so I lost a lot of positions.

This was always going to be the toughest race of the year for us. We must reset, fight and see what we can do.”

Russell is at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza for the Italian Grand Prix this weekend.