George Russell races his Williams in front of packed Silverstone stands.

MOTOR SPORT: George Russell finished 12th in front of his home crowd at Formula 1’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

In the unusually blistering heat of the Northamptonshire circuit, Russell was 12th on the grid after receiving a three-place grid penalty for making contact with the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz during Saturday’s sprint session.

As the lights went out, Russell dropped two places as he made the run up to the first turn. A headline-making crash between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen brought out the safety car as the marshals tended to the stricken Red Bull, halting any chance of overtaking.

Due to the damage to the barrier, the race was red flagged after only four laps so the marshals could safely remove Verstappen’s machine and repair the barrier.

After repairs were completed, the race got back underway from a standing start with Russell 13th.

It was not long before the King’s Lynn-born driver found himself under pressure from the hard-charging Red Bull of Sergio Perez and, by lap eight of the 52-lap race, Perez had pushed the Williams back to 14th place.

Opting for a one-stop strategy, Russell pitted on lap 18 to change from the medium Pirelli tyres on to hard tyres, re-joining the pack in 16th. On fresh tyres, it was time for Russell to claim back some positions.

Eye on the prize. George Russell lined up behind Lewis Hamilton on the grid at Silverstone.

He slowly began gaining places and by lap 40 had gained three places.

He continued to gain positions and was 11th in the closing stages before being caught by the Alpha Tauri of Pierre Gasly.

“P12 was the maximum today for us,” said Russell.

“I made a poor getaway on the first start but a really good one on the second. Sadly, I had already lost a few positions. 

“When you have 50 or 60 laps in a race, the true pace of the car comes out and realistically, we are still slightly slower than Alpha Tauri, Alpine and Aston Martin right now. 

“Defending from those teams was always going to be difficult but we’ve been racing in the top-12 in the last four races, fighting for points in three of them, so we are making some good progress.

“It was an amazing weekend at Silverstone with the support from the home crowd. I wish it was like this every weekend!”

Russell is back on track for the Hungarian Grand Prix next weekend.