George Russell says his run to 16th during Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying felt like a “pole lap” for the Williams team amid a torrid 2019 Formula 1 season.

Having endured a difficult start to the season, Russell achieved the British squad’s best qualifying result of the year so far with the 16th-quickest lap during Q1 at the Hungaroring.

Russell’s effort was 1.3s faster than teammate Robert Kubica and saw him narrowly miss out on a spot in Q2 by just 0.053s. The Briton will line-up 15th on the grid following a penalty for Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi.

“I felt like I did a good lap in FP3 and I think we were a few tenths behind the guys around us,” Russell said.

“I wasn’t sure if they were making mistakes or what was happening, and I thought the true pace was around four-tenths behind.

“Prior to that session, we believed our true pace was about four-tenths behind.

“So to come away  with P16 on merit ahead of both Racing Points and Ricciardo, it really felt like a pole lap for us.”

“I’m absolutely satisfied with the job I’ve done,” he added. "Every driver on the grid, even Max probably after qualifying, probably knows they missed half a tenth on the table.

“But considering the circumstances and how much the track has changed, I really felt like we truly extracted the maximum from the tyres, from the car and from myself.”

Russell felt the qualifying result underlined the hard work the team has done since the beginning of the campaign, adding it was a much-needed morale boost heading into the summer break.

“The mood is quite electric considering our whole season to this point has been an incredibly tough year from so many aspects, especially the race team people,” he explained.

“It doesn’t matter if you are at the front or the back of the grid, you still work the same hours and put in the same effort.

“These guys only four years ago were putting the car on the front row at places and getting podiums week-in and week-out.

“And they are probably working harder now than they’ve ever worked before and they’ve had nothing to show for it.

“But that performance has gone so far in, and especially going into the summer break, it’s what we all needed as a team. This performance isn’t just from my side, we really did this together.”

 

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