Williams is hoping to fight with Ferrari on merit during Formula 1’s Belgian Grand Prix after George Russell nearly split Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel in qualifying.

Russell finished just behind both Ferrari’s as he made it through to Q2 for the fifth time in the 2020 season and ended up just 0.207s behind Vettel’s SF1000 in 15th place.

The result left Dave Robson, the team’s head of vehicle performance, left hopeful that Williams could take the fight to Ferrari during Sunday’s race in Belgium.

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"Certainly coming here we definitely didn't expect to be fighting with Ferrari," Robson said.

"It did look like they were struggling a bit yesterday, but even so I think yes we were a bit surprised.

"They didn't look particularly special on high fuel on Friday, so hopefully we can stay with them and battle with them.

"[I] don't think their end of straight speed is particularly brilliant either - a bit like ours. We'll definitely be trying."

Russell was equally surprised to be able to as close as he did to the Ferraris, labelling qualifying at Spa-Francorchamps as one of Williams’ best of the season having initially expected to struggle at the circuit with his “draggy” FW43.

“They’ve been struggling all weekend and battling with them for spots on the grid was very unexpected,” Russell explained.

“Even for us to get into Q2, we knew on paper this is a circuit that doesn’t suit the characteristics of our car, it felt absolutely great and I was really pleased to get through to Q2.

“I have no idea [where the pace came from] to be honest. Even in FP3 I was 18th-slowest and struggling with the car, but it all just got hooked-up in qualifying.

“And it was exhilarating, probably one of the best qualifyings we’ve had all year to put it into perspective. And we’ve had some good ones so far.

“You can’t see but I’m grinning under this mask.”