FILE PHOTO: Formula One F1 – Austrian Grand Prix – Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Styria, Austria – July 1, 2021 Alpine’s Fernando Alonso during the press conference FIA/Handout via REUTERS
July 4, 2021
(Reuters) – Twice Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso commiserated with George Russell on Sunday after denying the Williams driver a point that would have been his team’s first in two years.
Alonso passed the Briton three laps from the finish of the Austrian Grand Prix to secure 10th place and the final point for Renault-owned Alpine.
“I felt a bit sad for George because he drove an amazing weekend,” the Spaniard told Sky Sports television.
“I was hoping it was anyone but him on that last spot. I had much better tyres, much better traction and i could make the move.
“He will have more opportunities hopefully for podiums or wins in the future.”
Russell, the 2018 Formula Two champion, has scored points only once in Formula One — when he stood in for seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton in Bahrain last December and almost won before finishing ninth.
Under contract to reigning champions Mercedes, the 23-year-old could be Hamilton’s team mate next year if they decide not to retain Valtteri Bottas.
Russell had started eighth at the Red Bull Ring on Sunday after reaching the final phase of qualifying on merit for the first time in a Williams.
The previous weekend at the same Austrian circuit he retired from the Styrian Grand Prix after starting 10th and running in the points.
“So close yet so far,” said the Briton, who had lost four places at the start before climbing back to 10th.
“I was driving as hard as I could and as fast as I could. If you could choose any guy to have behind you, you probably wouldn’t choose Fernando.”
Russell said there was hope for the future, with his home British Grand Prix at Silverstone the next race up.
“I feel at one with the car and the team at the moment and we’re really getting everything out of the package, especially on a Saturday,” he said.
“We’re so close. P12 in France, P8 last week before we retired and P11 today…it’s coming, but it’s frustrating at the same time.”
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Ed Osmond)