Abu Dhabi: Britain’s George Russell will be joining Lewis Hamilton at the 2019 grid as the top rookie after winning the Formula 2 Championship’s feature race on Saturday.
With the title already sealed, Russell finished his final engagements with F2 with a fourth-place finish on Sunday. Charouz Racing System‘s Antonio Fuoco rounded off the season finale with victory in the Sprint race.
Russell, who will be racing for Williams next year, had a significant 41-point advantage over his nearest rival Alexander Albon on race 1. And with only 44 points still available in total, the title was his as soon as the race set off and Albon’s car stalled on Saturday’s race one.
“It’s a huge sigh of relief to be honest,” said Russell. “It’s been a very long and tough year for myself and ART, and we’ve worked really hard and probably from Baku we’ve been one of the quickest on track every single time.”
Russell revealed that the championship has done a world of good for him and his team ART as they were going through testing times before he came on-board.
“They’ve had two difficult years in F2/GP2,” he said. “We’ve had two years together, because I was with them last year in GP3, and it’s been a real journey working with each other, and you probably saw the emotion at the podium from the mechanics and engineers: they’re absolutely buzzing.”
Russell has now matched Ferrari-bound Charles Leclerc’s achievement of winning back-to-back titles in GP3 and F2 before making it to the Formula One. The 20-year-old, who has already tested for Force India in 2017 and also tested for Mercedes as their reserve driver this season, revealed he has gained plenty of experience from his two-year stint in F2.
“It certainly taught me is that there’s no negative race, because any poor race you have, you learn something from it and take it forward,” he said. “I think that’s something looking back that I’m glad that our first race in Bahrain was so poor, because we had bad race pace, the car wasn’t good.
“I was driving the wrong way to get the most out of the tyres, and we came away from that race learning so much that we put into good use in the following races. So if it’s a good or a bad weekend, there’s always something to take out of it.”
Russell also equalled Leclerc and Stoffel Vandoorne’s joint record of seven wins in a season.
One race the Briton wanted to put behind him from the entire season’s action was the Baku Race 1 which he lost after he had gained the edge.
“We were comfortably in the lead when the safety car came out and we had a bit of an incident with Nyck de Vries at the restart and I lost the win and finished 12th,” he said. “But I started Race 2 from there and came through to win, so that was redemption for the previous day.”