A toast to the rain? George Russell celebrates his unexpected podium.

MOTOR SPORT: George Russell claimed his first Formula 1 career podium finish at the Belgium Grand Prix on Sunday, finishing ahead of world champion Lewis Hamilton.

A lightning qualifying session proved crucial for the King’s Lynn-born driver with the actual race reduced to a virtual parade behind the safety car for less than three laps due to heavy rain.

It meant positions were given according to the qualifying session with half points awarded, giving Williams driver Russell nine points.

George Russell cuts through the wet conditions in Belgium.
Pictures: Williams Racing.

He said: “The conditions were incredibly difficult out there and even in second with only one car in front, sometimes I couldn’t see Max (Verstappen) ahead. 

“I’m really sorry for everyone at the track and those watching around the world that we couldn’t race but safety has to come first.

“It’s a strange feeling as I’ve never had a race finish like this in my career but a podium is a podium and we will take it no matter what. 

“We were rewarded for the amazing job we did as a team on Saturday. 

“Obviously if the race had gone ahead it would have been incredibly difficult for us to hold our position but you’ve got to take it as it comes.

“It was only the last race in Hungary that I scored my first points for Williams and here we are standing on the podium at the Belgian Grand Prix.

“It is a reward for all of the hard work everyone in the team has put in over these past three years.

“We don’t often get rewarded for great qualifyings, but we absolutely did today.”

Russell’s impressive qualifying drive meant he had started one place higher on the grid than Mercedes’ multi-world champion Hamilton.

Whether that will be a familiar position for 2022 remains to be seen with Mercedes ready to confirm who will drive alongside Hamilton with Russell in firm contention to take over from Valtteri Bottas in the hot seat. 

Russell is back on track this weekend when the F1 circus moves to the Circuit Zandvoort for the Dutch Grand Prix.