OPINION | George Russell's selfless actions in the Hungarian GP shows he's a true team player

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George Russell and Nicholas Latifi celebrating their success at the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix with the Williams team.
George Russell and Nicholas Latifi celebrating their success at the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix with the Williams team.
Williams Racing

• George Russell and Nicholas Latifi scored Williams' first points since 2019.

• Russell asked the team to his him as support as Latifi fought for maximum points.

• The two drivers have been team mates since 2020.

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The Williams Formula 1 team has been struggling for pace the last few seasons now. Their last win came at the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix when Pastor Maldonado took victory ahead of Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, and their last points finish came in 2019 when Robert Kubica claimed tenth place at the German GP. That solitary point was also the team's only point scored that season. In 2020, with a relatively green driver line-up, Williams failed to make it into the top ten, finishing the season dead last and with little to be excited about.

George Russell was just about the only glimmer of hope in the team, having been there since 2019 to partner Kubica. Yet, every race weekend, the young Brit would race his heart out to salvage some points for his team. He'd often come very close to finishing in the top ten, but his car's performance disadvantage and technical gremlins would often have the final say.

At the start of 2020, Russell was joined by Nicholas Latifi - a Canadian racer who came with the support of his father's billions. Latifi was miles behind Russell in terms of skill and racecraft, yet the two always tried their best to lift Williams from the doldrums. Their luck finally changed at the 2021 Hungarian GP when not one but both drivers finished in the points. But it was so very almost that Russell did not…

A crazy race

The Hungarian GP got underway under some heavy rain. Drivers struggled off the line when the lights went out, with several crashing out of the race. The drama brought out the red flag and the race being stopped for marshals to clear the stricken cars and debris from the track. But what it did was jumble the order, with Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes-AMG) leading from Esteban Ocon (Alpine) and Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin). And in fourth place? Yours truly, Nicholas Latifi.

At the restart, Hamilton failed to enter the pits for a set of dry tyres while the remaining drivers did. Latifi would end up third behind Ocon and Vettel when Hamilton decided to pit again, leaving Williams in a prime position to score the maximum number of points. After everyone pitted, Russell gained positions in the pit stop and came out ahead of Ocon, but he gave the gained positions back, eventually dropping down the order to seventh. Still, both drivers were in the points at this point.

In the opening laps after the restart, a radio message between Russell and his team was played. It shocked everyone hearing it, but it underlined the calibre of person the young man is: "If you need to compromise my race, do it. Prioritise Nicki," he said.

Russell knew that Latifi was better positioned than him to gain maximum points and had no issue playing the support role to his team mate. Given the team's lacklustre pace, Russell knew how important scoring even one point would be and how much it would mean to the team. Even if everyone passes Latifi, Russell would not have had a problem settling for 11th (again), as long as Latifi finishes in the points - even if it's tenth. Russell not only showed his class and ability to be a team player, but proved that supporting your team mate is not a humiliating act. 

Latifi and Russell finished the Hungarian GP in eighth and ninth place, respectively, but following Vettel's disqualification, they moved up a position. The Williams team now has ten points to their name in 2021.

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