Russell led the top 10 riders in the shootout, moving from intermediates that all the drivers had used in Q1 and Q2 to a soft, smooth compound with six Q3 minutes remaining.
He explained how the rest of his fourth appearance in Q3 2021 went during the post-qualifying press conference in Sochi, where he finished behind pole winner Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz.
Russell said: “I came on the radio to say to the guys, ‘let’s get the slicks ready because it’s definitely going to get slick’.
“And they responded by saying ‘let’s box this round.’ So I thought maybe they misunderstood what I meant by that radio commentary. But I said we have to go in these sessions – high risk, high reward Especially under these conditions.
“And when I got out of the pitlane on the slicks [I was] almost crashing straight out of the box.
“And I was only this last round [where the time came]. I kept having a little traffic here and there, [which meant] I couldn’t complete the lap and it was a bit frustrating.
“But, like everyone else, I knew the last lap was going to be the last lap. So we saved everything for the time and here we are. A bit surreal that this was our second top three. in four races now. “
Russell’s result in Sochi on Saturday followed his second place in wet qualifying at Spa, which became his first F1 podium in the controversial abandoned “race” that followed the next day.
When asked to compare his emotions after qualifying in the two events, Russell said: “Definitely different. Equally happy, of course, and P3 is an amazing position to start – it’s a very long race in. turn 2.
“We are quite slippery on the straights and I hope Lando gives me a nice little wake in turn 1.
“Certainly very happy. We now score three points in the last four.
“There’s no reason we can’t keep going. We have to aim for the podium – we have nothing to lose and we just have to go.”