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Azerbaijan GP: Qualifying team notes - Williams

NEWS STORY
05/06/2021

George Russell qualified 15th and Nicholas Latifi 16th for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. A colossal effort from the team saw George's car make it out for qualifying, following a power unit change necessitated by a water pump leak in FP3.

George reached Q2 for the sixth consecutive race, setting a time of 1:42.758 in a session cut short by a red flag. Nicholas set his fastest time on his first flying lap of the Q1 session, posting a 1:43.128.

Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance: The tests completed yesterday, and the analysis overnight was rewarded in FP3 where we showed a good improvement from FP2. The drivers were both much happier and Nicholas was very quickly back up to speed following his issue in FP2, completing two strong runs and showing ever improving pace. George had a good first run but was unable to show his true pace in FP3 due to a rare issue with the power unit water pump. Unfortunately, there wasn't time before qualifying to change the pump on his power unit and so we refitted the unit that he ran in Monaco. No damage was done to the new power unit and although this will be checked thoroughly, we expect it to return to duty in France.

Qualifying was the complicated affair that we expected with several red flags in Q1. Whilst this cost Nicholas several attempts on new tyres, it ensured that George got out for Q1 with time to complete a variety of run plans following his power unit change after FP3. It was another great effort from the team to get his car ready.

With Stroll and Giovinazzi both crashing out of Q1, it effectively became a shootout between our drivers for the final place in Q2. George was able to build over his three timed lap run, but Nicholas used a little too much of the tyres on the first lap and was unable to better that time. George ultimately made it through at Nicholas's expense. With George having missed the opening run in Q1, he had a new set of tyres available for Q2 and completed a decent run on a relatively quiet track but unfortunately, another red flag prevented him from closing his final lap.

If today is anything to go by then tomorrow could be an action-packed race with a range of tyre strategies being deployed. We are pleased with our efforts overnight and today, and we are looking forward to an exciting day tomorrow.

George Russell: Firstly, the mechanics did a fantastic job. I think that must be a record time for a full power unit change and getting everything sorted! Huge thanks to them. We then delivered when it mattered and I'm really happy to get into Q2. That was almost the maximum today; we capitalised on other people's mistakes so I'm happy with the overall performance.

Tomorrow is going to be really interesting. Hopefully there is a bit of action and we can make the most of it.

Nicholas Latifi: For me, it felt like the tyres were at their peak on my first lap, which is when I set my quickest time. Unfortunately, I think we got unlucky when the red and yellow flags came out because we used our three sets of tyres that we have for qualifying, but in reality, I only got to do the one representative push lap. With this kind of circuit we know that there's a high chance something like that will happen with flags, but you just don't know when they will come out and unfortunately we weren't at the right place at the right time. Overall, I think we had the pace to be faster and get through to Q2, so I'm a little disappointed, but opportunities always present themselves here, so hopefully we can take advantage of that.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Baku, here.

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