Double duty Russell grabs final GP3 pole of 2017

George Russell jumped straight out of the Force India F1 car at the end of free practice 1 in Abu Dhabi, and then successfully won pole position for the GP3 finale.

It had been a busy day for the 19-year-old. He started off with GP3 practice and then took part in Formula 1 Free Practice 1 in place of Esteban Ocon.

He put in an impressive performance in the VJM10, setting the 11th fastest time of the afternoon session.

“Another very enjoyable experience working with this team,” he said afterwards. “Today’s session was an important part of the team’s preparations for next year with some different specification parts being tried on my car.

“It was not about lap times but simply collecting the data and giving accurate feedback to the team.

“It’s always nice to have the opportunity to be in the car,” he added. “Your confidence improves with every run and you get more and more comfortable with the car.”

His confidence certainly shown through when he leapt back into his regular GP3 car for qualifying just 40 minutes later. However, he admitted that it had required a big adjustment.

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“Straight after the FP1 session with Force India I didn’t really know what to expect,” he said. “It took a bit of learning to get used to it.

“It’s just completely different,” he admitted. “The power steering is a big part of that difference.

“My braking points were obviously completely different: I was probably entering a high braking zone 50kmph faster in F1 and braking 25m later than I do in GP3. To revert back to that was quite tough.

“They are two very different cars, but in the end it worked out fine and I was very pleased with it.”

Russell successfully claimed his fourth series pole of the year. It means that his team, ART, have come top in every qualifying session in 2017.

“Very happy with that!” he commented. “50 per cent of the poles for myself, 100 per cent for ART, so that’s a fantastic achievement.

“The car felt great, we really optimised the session, and I’m really happy to get pole position again.”

Russell has already clinched the 2017 title ahead of his ART team mates Jack Aitkin and Nirei Fukuzumi. With four wins under his belt, he would like nothing better to sign off from GP3 with a fifth.

“I think we can win! There’s no pressure, so we can go out and enjoy it,” he commented. “I might have a fight on my hands but I’ll just out and enjoy it, and have a battle if need be.”

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