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Russell: Williams deserved podium in Belgium

George Russell said the unusual circumstances under which he scored the first top-three result of his career made no difference to the sense of pride he took from finishing second at the Belgian Grand Prix.

Russell finished second to Max Verstappen on Sunday despite completing just three laps behind the safety car during a farcical race in wet conditions at Spa Francorchamps.

The handful of laps was enough to ensure half points were awarded and, despite no wheel-to-wheel racing taking place, the top three lifted trophies and sprayed sparkling wine in a traditional podium ceremony.

Because the conditions were too dangerous to race in on Sunday, Russell’s second place finish was secured by his outstanding qualifying performance on Saturday in which he mastered the wet conditions to put his Williams second on the grid.

It was the Williams team’s first podium since Lance Stroll finished third at the 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix and, after a string of impressive qualifying performances this year, Russell said they would celebrate despite the unusual circumstances.

“It actually counted, it actually counted, so a little celebration tonight I’m sure,” he said. “My whole team deserves it as there has been so much hard work going into it over the last few years and there has not really been anything to show for it or prove for it.

“We absolutely nailed it yesterday and here we are standing on the podium. I can tell you I didn’t expect that this year, that’s for sure.

“It’s been a very long day for sure – but for the whole team it’s a massive result. For us to be standing on this podium, didn’t really matter how we achieved it, standing on this podium, is a huge result for us.

“Remembering we finished last in the constructors’ championship three years in a row and here we are this weekend, qualifying on the front row and standing on the podium. I’m really proud to have achieved this with the team.”

Williams, which scored just eight points in the previous three seasons, now has 20 points this year after scoring at both the Hungarian and Belgian Grands Prix. It looks set to secure eighth place in the championship this year ahead of Alfa Romeo and Haas, which would be its best result since 2017.

“I believe the amount of points we scored in Hungary were probably enough to have secured that eighth in the constructors’ [championship] but I believe it probably takes even more pressure off now, to go out, really put everything on the line, maybe try some more extreme things, see if we can learn anything more – because there’s no reason why we can’t score more points.”

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