A stunning double win has put Wisbech car-racing rookie George Russell into the BRDC Formula 4 Championship lead after the first round of the season on the Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit.
The 16-year-old showed tremendous flair in tricky weather conditions to storm through from fourth and sixth on the grid in the two Sunday races with his Lanan Racing machine.
Added to a fifth place in the Saturday opening race, the results give Russell a 13-point championship lead over his closest rival, Mexican Diego Menchaca.
Russell’s charge to his first victory in the second race came after a slow start put him down to seventh away from the line. With rain falling and no heat in his slick tyres, it was a question of keeping control in extremely difficult circumstances.
“We’d chosen this race to use our four new tyres,” said Russell, “and when it started raining I couldn’t get any heat into them. I came to the grid and they were still totally cold. The guys all around me on the grid had used tyres, which is better when it’s slippery, and to top it all there was oil from a previous race on my side of the grid!
“I made a really bad start, down to seventh, but into Vale I made up three places and then just picked them off step by step to get into the lead.”
The Wisbech driver passed Gustavo Lima into Stowe Corner to take the lead on the third lap. “I got my head down, kept pushing and opened the gap up,” he said. “After a few laps half the track was dry and the other half wet, so being the first car it was hard to know where the grip was. From that point I kept it chilled and just didn’t want to risk anything.”
Having already used his new tyres, George faced another tricky task in the dry third race, with most of those around him on the grid on fresh rubber.
“I wasn’t expecting to be in the top two,” he said, “but I got a good start and moved into third after running three-abreast through Stowe and Vale.
“I started catching the two leaders, and Sennan Fielding spun off while fighting Nicolas Beer, and that put me up to second. I caught Beer through Chapel Curve and onto the straight, but he squeezed me towards the grass. So I went to the outside into Stowe and kept it pinned to pass him, although I got a bit sideways as I went through!
“Then I kept pushing and opened the gap and it was another win – a fantastic job by Lanan Racing, because we had a one-two with my team-mate Arjun Maini in second place.”
The next round of the BRDC Formula 4 Championship is on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit on May 17/18, supporting the high-profile Blancpain GT Sprint endurance series. But before then Russell heads to Pau in South-West France, where he will contest the second round of the Formula Renault 2.0 ALPS series with Koiranen GP.
Please check www.georgerussellracing.com for updates.