George Russell’s outstanding qualifying performances in vain as engine change penalty forces him down grid

George Russell.

George Russell. - Credit: Archant

George Russell looked on course for a fantastic weekend at the Nurburgring in the Formula 3 European Championship ... but disaster struck.

The unlucky 17-year-old qualified second, second and third for the races, but he lost his front-row starts due to an engine-change grid penalty.

The 2014 McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award winner was docked 10 places on the grid for all three races.

The Carlin team discovered a problem with Russell’s Volkswagen engine in between free practice and the first qualifying session.

In the races, Russell battled to 13th, eighth and 10th place finishes. With one race weekend remaining, at Hockenheim on October 16-18, he is sixth in the overall standings.

He said: “I had probably one of my strongest weekends in terms of pace. We had a fantastic qualifying ending up P2 in both sessions.

“Unfortunately 35 minutes before Q1, the team found a problem in the engine which meant we had to change it.

Most Read

“It was looking very unlikely we were even going to be able to make it out into qualifying but the team did an unbelievable job in getting the engine changed in less than 40 minutes.

“I drove directly from my awning, through a pit garage while the session had already started and straight onto the circuit to go out and qualify P2. So that was mega.

“Unfortunately, the consequences of changing engine meant I had to take a 10 place grid penalty for all three races which was extremely gutting considering how good our pace was.

“I fought a lot in the races and managed to still come home with a few points, but it was extremely difficult circuit to overtake at with very small tyre degradation so there wasn’t a huge amount any driver could do.

“It was an extremely positive weekend with our pace and I saw that as more of a result for myself than actually fighting to finish on the podium.

“We’re having a strong end to the season at the moment so hopefully we can take that into the final round of the season in a couple of weeks.”