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George Russell sees points advantage cut in FIA Formula Two title race

PUBLISHED: 16:43 28 August 2018 | UPDATED: 16:43 28 August 2018

The Spa-Francorchamps FIA Formula Two race one podium with winner Nyck de Vries, second-placed Sergio Sette Camara, left, and third-placed George Russell Picture: Joe Portlock FIA F2/LAT

The Spa-Francorchamps FIA Formula Two race one podium with winner Nyck de Vries, second-placed Sergio Sette Camara, left, and third-placed George Russell Picture: Joe Portlock FIA F2/LAT

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The FIA Formula Two title race is in the balance after George Russell endured a tough weekend at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit.

The west Norfolk racer headed to Belgium with a 12-point cushion over title rival Lando Norris, which the McLaren Grand Prix Junior driver slashed to five ahead of the next round at Monza, Italy.

“Fair to say that was one of the toughest races and weekends of the year for us,” said Russell after coming home seventh in Sunday’s Sprint event as Norris claimed second.

Russell, the Mercedes AMG Motorsport Reserve driver, started the second race from sixth on the grid, but excessive wheel spin at the start saw him drop a couple of places.

A pass on Roy Nissany gave the local racer seventh, but a lack of traction exiting the Bus Stop Chicane and La Source kept Russel just out of range to be able to use his rival’s slipstream to set up any more passing moves.

The weekend had started well for Russell, whose qualifying performance saw him start the opening race from the front row alongside the pole-sitting Nyck de Vries.

“We struggled quite a lot in practice with the car, even though we were P3 it wasn’t feeling great and to the usual standard,” said Russell after qualifying. “We worked really hard between the two sessions to sort it out, so I’m rather pleased with second.”

Wheel spin also blighted Russell’s start in the longer opening race when he was unable to stop Sergio Sette Camara from taking second, with Russell slotting into third.

Norris was quickly on the tail of his rival but Russell fended off his early challenge and managed the gap to ensure he held on to the final podium position.

“We just didn’t really get the balance in the right window today,” said Russell post-race. “In a race like that, where I felt like I was struggling, to still come away with third position, I was very pleased with that”.

With Norris fourth, Russell’s points lead grew to 15, but it was all undone in the second race with the former taking second, and 10 points more than Russell’s seventh place earned him. But both will need to keep an eye on the closing Thai-British racer Alex Albon and Dutchman de Vries.

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