Russell secured a brilliant third on the grid in a dramatic wet-dry qualifying at the Russian Grand Prix after being the first driver to gamble on slick tyres as conditions improved during the closing stages of Q3.

It marked the latest in a string of impressive results for Russell and followed his sensational qualifying lap at the Belgian Grand Prix which ultimately earned him a maiden career podium when the race was abandoned.

The Briton will start Sunday’s race at Sochi behind Lando Norris, who claimed a shock maiden pole position for McLaren, and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.

While Verstappen praised Russell’s performance, he also believes that Williams deserves more credit for its vast turnaround in competitiveness.

“Well, first of all, I think Lando [Norris] did a very good job, and also Carlos [Sainz],” Verstappen said.

“George for sure he’s a very, very good driver, but when you can do these kinds of things, it also shows that the car isn’t that bad that people think.

“He scored points and he had good qualifyings, and for sure also in Spa – that car is not a Red Bull or a Mercedes but they also run more wing and more downforce, so naturally everything just starts to become a bit closer.

“And nevertheless he still did an amazing job, but I think people have to understand that car isn’t as bad as people think it is.”

Verstappen will start from the back of the grid thanks to an engine penalty but his main championship rival Lewis Hamilton was only able to qualify fourth after an error-strewn Q3 that saw him crash twice, including hitting the pit wall.

“You’ve done the pit entry a few times in that time, I think you understand how slippery it is but I don’t know what happened,” Verstappen said of Hamilton’s mistake. “I quickly saw the replay, so I haven’t actually fully watched it.

The Dutchman jokingly added: “Of course it would be better not to make that mistake, but I guess he knows that himself as well.”