The Briton was the first driver to gamble on slick tyres amid a rapidly drying track in Q3, a move which ultimately paid off as he secured third place on the grid behind McLaren’s Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari.

And Russell now has his eyes set on finishing on the rostrum in Sochi.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” Russell said in parc ferme after qualifying.

“Yesterday our high fuel pace was one of our best of the year. It's still a long way behind these guys [Norris and Sainz] and the Mercedes who are starting behind us, so we're going to have a battle on our hands.

“But we are pretty slippery on the straight, and have some nice straightline speed. So yeah, we’ve got to go for the podium again. It's nothing to lose.”

It marked the second time in four races that Russell has qualified inside the top three, following his brilliant lap to take second at the Belgian Grand Prix, which translated into a maiden podium when the race was abandoned.


“It is crazy,” he said. “It's the second time in the top three in three events, so the team have done an amazing job once again.

“We pitted at the right time, putting the right tyres on. But it was tricky out there. There's one dry line and, if you were just a couple of centimetres too wide, you will have been on the wet stuff and you will have been off.”

Russell also revealed that his crucial decision to switch to slicks only came about due to a miscommunication with his team.

“I came on the radio to say to tell the guys let’s get the slicks ready because it’s definitely going to go slicks and they replied saying, ‘okay let’s box this lap’,” Russell explained.

“So I thought they might have misunderstood what I meant by that radio comment. I said we’ve got to go for it in these sessions. High risk, high reward, especially in these conditions.

“When I came out of the pit lane on the slicks almost crashing out of the box, it was only that last lap, I kept getting a bit of traffic here and there, I couldn’t complete the lap. So that was a bit frustrating.

“But as it was for everybody, I knew that last lap was going to be the killer lap. So we saved it all for them, here we are, bit surreal it is our second top three in four races now.”