Russell praises "huge progress" at former team Williams F1

Mercedes driver George Russell says he is "really pleased" to see Alex Albon alongside him on row two of Formula 1's Dutch Grand Prix amid "huge progress" at Williams.

Alex Albon, Williams Racing, George Russell, Mercedes-AMG, congratulate each other in Parc Ferme after Qualifying

Russell spent three years at Williams at the start of his F1 career before switching to Mercedes full-time for 2022, with his close friend Albon his replacement as the Mercedes engine customer's lead driver.

Williams has been struggling following years of underinvestment but, empowered by new owners Dorilton, former Mercedes man James Vowles has been overhauling the team to return it back to the front of the midfield.

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Not unlike last year, the team's efficient, lower-downforce F1 car has been excelling at low-downforce circuits but less impressive on tracks were high loads are required.

However, at Zandvoort, Albon and rookie team-mate Logan Sargeant have bucked that trend, with Albon qualifying fourth and Sargeant tenth following a Q3 crash.

"I'm really pleased to see [Albon] up there and it goes to show when you get your confidence how that can really transform the performance," Russell said.

"Williams is making a huge amount of progress at the moment and I think James Vowles is having a really positive impact there.

"I think he's definitely the best man for the job for what Williams need at the moment for their resurgence.

"It's great to see more than just the top teams fighting and that's what we want in Formula 1, we want everybody to have a chance if they do a good job."

Alexander Albon, Williams FW45

Alexander Albon, Williams FW45

Photo by: Erik Junius

Polesitter Max Verstappen, who had Albon as his Red Bull team-mate for 18 months in 2019 and 2020, was similarly impressed.

"They've been quick in the wet, they've been quick in the dry, so that's very impressive to see," said Verstappen.

"And that's great for the sport as well, that more teams are up there. And yeah, very happy for Alex himself. He's a great guy, he was my team-mate before.

"Very happy for him to be up there and have - for at least this weekend - a very competitive car."

Second-place qualifier Lando Norris also thought it was "good to have [Williams] in the battle too" but wasn't overly surprised by its performance.

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"I wouldn't say it's a big, big surprise because they've been very competitive at certain places but every now and then," the McLaren driver pointed out. "Silverstone was a similar thing, he was P1 through practice and so on.

"Now, they just managed to keep it more through qualifying and into Q3 especially. I’m happy for him and the whole team.

"Logan was there all the way pretty much into Q3. They look strong, they made some big progress this season."

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