Can George Russell overcome last year’s upset at Imola?

12-04-2021 09:00 | Updated: 12-04-2021 14:24
Can George Russell overcome last year’s upset at Imola?

After an upsetting finish in the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix last year, George Russell will be hoping to bounce back and secure a points finish at Imola on Sunday. 

The Williams driver is still yet to score a point with the British team and came close on multiple occasions last season, one being at Imola in November.

The real question surrounding Russell is if the Brit will finally reach a points-scoring position in the Williams this year before a potential move is on the cards after the season finishes in Abu Dhabi.

Accident last year at Imola 

Whilst the race was under a safety car on lap 53, Russell crashed into the wall. At the time, he was in 10th place and was having one of his best performances of the season, looking like a points finish was almost a guarantee.

When attempting to warm the tyres, Russell’s throttle push resulted in a 90 degree turn left, straight into the wall, retiring the Williams car and hopes of a top 10 finish.

After the race, the 23-year-old was visibly upset and annoyed at his mistake and later on, apologised to all members of the Williams team on multiple occasions, one being a letter.

“There was only one reason why we were in a position to score points and that was because each of you showed 100% commitment and made the car better every week. I really wish I could have kept the car out of the wall so I could have taken a point or two with me”, says the letter that got hold of.

“Mr Saturday” unable to score on Sunday

Russell is still yet to be beaten by his Williams teammate Nicholas Latifi on Saturday’s, with a record of 36 races in a row, matching Nelson Piquet for third place on the all-time list. Thus resulting in being named “Mr Saturday”, however, he has never quite been able to translate his Saturday form to the race on Sunday.

A combination of his own mistakes, unluckiness and small margins has caused Russell to sit in his current position of being pointless.

An 11th place finish at the Tuscany Grand Prix was the closest finish the Brit has had to points, being only 2.421 seconds off Sebastian Vettel in 10th. A duo of 12th-placed finishes at Silverstone and the Bahrain International Circuit, alongside a close-14th place finish at Portimao, summed up the season Russell faced last year.

However, much like Imola, occurrences of unluckiness haunted GR63 on many occasions. During the Belgium Grand Prix in August, an Antonio Giovinazzi error saw the Alfa Romeo end up in the wall, sending one of his wheels flying across the track and hitting Russell’s front right wheel, causing him to crash into the parallel wall. Giovinazzi’s teammate Kimi Raikkonen also took the Williams driver out during the Eifel Grand Prix, hitting him whilst attempting an overtake, which sent Russell flying and ended his race early.

Can Russell score points this season?

Every fan of Formula One knows that George Russell has the talent to finish at the top of the grid on any occasion, as is shown with his performance last year at the Sakhir Grand Prix, but will he be able to reach that in a car hoping to breach the gap to the midfield.

Russell finished 14th in last month’s season opener in Bahrain but the windy conditions of the open track was an issue for the wind-sensitive Williams car.

However, with Imola being more suited to Williams, with a more sheltered track and smoother high-speed corners (compared to Bahrain), Russell will be confident that a points finish can be achieved on Sunday.

Do you think George Russell will score points for Williams this year? Let us know your predictions in the comments and where you think it could happen!

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