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Motor racing:'Mr Saturday' heroics hand Russell maiden F1 podium

Motor racing:'Mr Saturday' heroics hand Russell maiden F1 podium

Formula One F1 - Belgian Grand Prix - Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium - August 29, 2021 Williams' George Russell celebrates on the podium after finishing second REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

George Russell made his 'Mr Saturday' tag count after his stunning display in a wet qualifying session earned him his first Formula One podium in Sunday's washed-out Belgian Grand Prix.

Sunday's race, the shortest in Formula One history, was abandoned after drivers completed the minimum laps behind a safety car needed to declare a result, following a lengthy rain-enforced stoppage.

That allowed the Briton, who had put his Williams on the front row on Saturday, to keep second place behind Red Bull race winner Max Verstappen without a single lap of racing.

"It actually counted," said Russell, who earned his 'Mr Saturday' tag thanks to his giant-killing qualifying performances.

"The whole team deserve it.

"There’s so much hard work going into this over the last few years and there’s not really been anything to show for it," added the 23-year-old, who is widely tipped to replace Valtteri Bottas at champions Mercedes.

Russell has progressed beyond the opening knockout phase of qualifying at all but one of this season's 12 races. He has made it into the final pole-position shootout three times, including in Belgium where he secured a place on the grid ahead of championship leader Hamilton.

But Russell only took his first points finish for Williams at the last race in Hungary. 

Former champions Williams, who have finished at the bottom of the overall standings for the last three years, have also been making progress.

Sunday's result, for which they earned half points, was their first top-three finish since Canadian Lance Stroll's third place finish in Baku in 2017. 

But the Grove-based team are still eighth in this year's constructors' table, making Russell's Belgian qualifying heroics all the more impressive.

While Russell felt sorry for the fans who sat huddled in the torrential rain only to see the field briefly circulate behind the safety car, he did not let the circumstances dampen his joy at being on the podium.

"We don't often get rewarded for great qualifyings and we absolutely did today," he said.

"We absolutely nailed it yesterday and here we are standing on the podium. I can tell you I didn’t expect that this year, that’s for sure."

(Reporting by Abhishek Takle; Editing by Pritha Sarkar)

Source: Reuters

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