The all-British fight for the Formula 2 title intensified at Spa when Mercedes reserve driver George Russell had his toughest race weekend of the nine rounds held so far.
He emerged with third and seventh places in Saturday's Feature race and Sunday's reverse-grid Sprint race respectively, while rival Lando Norris, who drove the McLaren in Friday's first F1 Free Practice session, managed fourth and second places to close to within five points of 20-year-old George in the Championship.
"Obviously we've had a few unfortunate race weekends, like Monaco and Budapest," George explained, "but in terms of pure pace I think this is the first time this year that we've actually struggled.
"I believe it had a bit to do with the track. Spa is a bit of an old-school track surface, very abrasive and a lot of the tracks we race on - Silverstone, Red Bull Ring, almost all the tracks in fact, have been resurfaced. I think that was the root cause and we need to sort it for Monza (next weekend).
"We really struggled with the tyres, especially in the Sprint race, so we've got some work to do. Generally, everyone has a bit of a joker weekend in terms of pace and this was ours. But I can definitely still get the job done.
"We class this as a poor weekend and came away with second on the grid, P3 and P7, so that shows what we can do on a good one!"
After Monza, the series has just two further rounds, in Sochi and Abu Dhabi.