George Russell to Mercedes finally confirmed as Brit becomes new Lewis Hamilton team-mate
F1: George Russell hikes during the off-season
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Mercedes have announced the signing of George Russell to partner Lewis Hamilton from 2022. The announcement comes after Valtteri Bottas, the current driver for Mercedes alongside the seven-time world champion, was announced as Alfa Romeo’s new driver on Monday following the retirement of Formula One legend Kimi Raikkonen.
Russell has spent the past two full seasons, and the current campaign, with Williams but will join Mercedes as Bottas’ successor in 2022.
The 23-year-old is a highly-rated Mercedes junior driver who is widely expected to contend for world championships in the future.
Russell has made it clear himself he wants to be battling it out at the front of the grid and will get the chance to do so for the Silver Arrows.
The Kings Lynn-born racer proved his credentials last year when he stepped in for a Covid-stricken Hamilton at the Sakhir Grand Prix. He was going at a race-winning pace before a team pitstop error, and then a puncture, cost him.
Russell becomes seven-time world champion Hamilton’s sixth career team-mate in F1 with Bottas having enjoyed a five-year association with the Brackley-based outfit.
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And he is certainly aware of the calibre of driver he will be going up against when he joins the Silver Arrows in 2022.
Russell said: “It’s a special day for me personally and professionally, but also a day of mixed emotions.
“I’m excited and humbled to be joining Mercedes next year, which is a huge career step, but it also means I’ll be saying goodbye to my team-mates and friends at Williams.
“It has been an honour working alongside every member of the team, and an honour to represent the Williams name in F1. Since I joined in 2019, we have worked tirelessly to push each other forward and bring the team back up the grid where it belongs.
“We’ve battled for every qualifying position, every point, and every tenth of a second. No matter how tough it’s been, nobody has ever given up, and that has inspired me every day.
“I’ve loved every moment in what I’d describe as a true heart and soul racing team, and I’ll be pushing harder than ever to make sure we end our story in the best possible way.
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“Looking ahead to next season, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t absolutely buzzing. It’s a huge opportunity and one I want to grab with both hands. But I’m under no illusions as to the scale of the challenge; it’s going to be a steep learning curve.
“Valtteri has set a high bar, consistently delivering week in and week out, scoring wins, pole positions and helping win multiple championship titles.”
“My target must be to reward the trust that Toto, the team, and the board have placed in me by ensuring I play my part in continuing that success and I want to do my new team-mates proud.”
“Of course, one of those new team-mates is in my opinion the greatest driver of all time. I’ve looked up to Lewis since I was in go-karts and the opportunity to learn from someone who has become a role model both on and off track can only benefit me as a driver, a professional, and a human being.
“For now, though, I have nine more races as a Williams driver, and I want to make sure they are the best nine of my time with the team. Then, and only then, can I turn my attention to 2022.
“A huge thank you to Williams, to Mercedes and to everyone who has supported me in getting to where I am today. I couldn’t have done it without every single one of you.”
The new driver line-up reveals that Mercedes are looking to the future as they prepare for life after Hamilton – who Russell labelled as ‘the greatest of all time’ recently – with the Brit set to turn 37 in January.
In a statement to Mercedes, team principal Toto Wolff said: “This hasn’t been an easy process or a straightforward decision for us.
“Valtteri has done a fantastic job over the past five seasons and he has made an essential contribution to our success and to our growth.
“Together with Lewis, he has built a benchmark partnership between two team-mates in the sport, and that has been a valuable weapon in our championship battles and pushed us to achieve unprecedented success.
“He would absolutely have deserved to stay with the team, and I am pleased that he has been able to choose an exciting challenge with Alfa next year to continue his career at the top level of the sport.
“When the time comes, he will leave us with huge goodwill from every single member of the team, and he will forever be part of the Mercedes family.”
Formula One completes its triple-header this weekend at Monza for the Italian Grand Prix.
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