Fernando Alonso admits he felt bad overtaking George Russell for the final point in the Austrian Grand Prix, but believes it made for an intense battle given what was at stake.
Russell has yet to score a point for Williams in his Formula 1 career and has come close in each of the last three races. After being forced to retire from the top eight in the first of two rounds at the Red Bull Ring, he followed his first Q3 appearance for Williams with a strong run again on Sunday. However, Alonso closed in and got the better of close fight with four laps remaining to take 10th place.
“It was very intense,” Alonso said. “Unfortunately, only for one point but it felt like it was the last lap of the championship for us, because one point is gold for him and for ourselves as well after starting 14th.
“It was nice. In a way when I saw that it was George, I felt a little bit sad that the battle had to be with him. But I think he will have the opportunity to step on podiums and fight for race wins in the future if he goes to Mercedes, so it’s going to be different times for him.
“But I enjoyed it. One point when starting from 14th maybe was not expected because our simulations (before the race) were a little bit more pessimistic than P10, so I take the point and this is something.”
George Russell wanted a point… Instead, he got a hug from the man who dubbed him a future champion 🤗
So tantalisingly close to that first point for Williams🇦🇹
— Formula 1 (@F1)
Despite Williams being a threat for points and ahead of at least one Alpine in qualifying at each of the two rounds in Austria, Alonso doesn’t expect that to be a trend at future races and is encouraged by the progress he has seen from his team.
“I think they made a step forward, yes,” he said. “But also, we checked last year in Austria they started 11th, so it seems like being a circuit where they are performing really well. So, I think we need to wait a couple of races to see if they are that fast or not. Last weekend, they were closer to us. I think this weekend we had a little bit more margin.
“I’m happy with he progress we made in these two weeks and it’s up to us to take it into Silverstone. If we can repeat this kind of performance this will put us top seven or top eight and that’s a step forward, for sure.”