Thu. Dec 2nd, 2021

Fernando Alonso says he felt “sad” when he saw that it was George Russell up ahead as he charged towards the Williams star at the Austrian GP, as the two drivers heaped praise on one another when reflecting on a key battle that eventually extended Russell’s F1 points wait.

Russell, in fine form all weekend, was in line for his first points as a Williams driver – in his 46th race with the team – on Sunday as he ran in 10th place in the late stages, but that position was snatched from him by two-time world champion Alonso in his faster Alpine car with just three laps remaining.

“So close, yet so far,” admitted Russell, the British driver who has been plagued by misfortune in points positions in recent years.

“I was driving as hard as I could as fast as I could, and then into the end if you could choose any guy to have behind you, you probably wouldn’t choose Fernando.”

The respect was reciprocated from Alonso, who in the past has hailed Russell as his pick to star in F1’s future.

“I felt a little bit sad for George because he drove an amazing weekend,” said F1 legend Alonso, 39. “When I saw P10 was him, I was hoping it was anyone apart from him in that spot!

“But I had much better tyres, much better traction out of Turn Three and I could make the move three laps to the end.”

Alonso then insisted: “He will have more opportunities for podiums and wins in the future.”

Although Russell was forced to settle for 11th despite qualifying in the top 10, a first with Williams, he admitted he never really had the pace to contend with Alonso.

“It was very tricky… with all of his experience, and speed as well,” said Russell. “Yesterday [in qualifying] he was very very fast and he should have finished inside the top five.

“Trying to keep him behind, and with his speed this weekend, it probably never would have happened.”

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