George Russell feared he would be unable to get through the first part of qualifying for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix on Saturday despite eventually finishing 12th for Williams.
The British driver continued his impressive Saturday form with two stunning laps in the first and second sessions, narrowly missing out on a place in the top-10 shoot-out by just 0.123secs.
After struggling for balance in the FW43B in practice, Russell said: "Ahead of this weekend, I thought Q2 would be possible but after all of the practice sessions, I thought absolutely no way and I would be doing good to get out of Q1.
"I was just struggling. I don't know why. The car felt good and I was just off the pace. Nicholas [Latifi - Russell's team-mate] was driving really, really well and has been fast every single session but we managed to do a good job in Q2 when it mattered."
Russell's 12th place equalled his best grid position for Williams last year and he is confident he has found performance in the car that could put him in with a chance of scoring his first points for the team on Sunday.
He added: "I am in a good place for tomorrow. I think we have made changes that have improved the car, improved the straight-line speed which will help us in a race situation, so I am really happy with the changes we made.
"To be able to do the job, in the end, was great. It was a very scrappy session. I only made the line in Q1 by five seconds. If it wasn't for that, I would have been out. I am pleased."
Latifi's performance ensured Williams saw both cars in Q2 for the second time since the beginning of the 2020 season, with Russell out-qualifying Sebastian Vettel in the Aston Martin and both beating Fernando Alonso's Alpine.
Russell remains grounded, however, and added: "I think Alfa Romeo and Haas are our rivals as I predicted. I expected Alfa Romeo to take a step backwards here compared to Bahrain and us to take a step forward which has been the case.
"I think we will be in a bit of a dogfight this year with Alfa fighting, hopefully, for eighth position in the constructors'."
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