George Russell’s gifts to Alex Albon as Mercedes-bound Brit welcomes Williams replacement

George Russell joins Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes

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George Russell was keen to make sure Alex Albon felt welcome when he arrived at Williams. After months of speculation, it was confirmed in September that Russell, 23, would be leaving the team to join Mercedes, replacing Valtteri Bottas to form a mouth-watering all British partnership with Lewis Hamilton next season.

The news came shortly after a career high for Russell, after he qualified second for the Belgian Grand Prix, only denied pole by a last-gasp effort from Max Verstappen.

When adverse weather meant only two safety car-led laps were possible the following day, the young star duly notched the first podium place of his career, albeit one where only half-points were awarded.

Albon meanwhile, replaced Pierre Gasly at Red Bull midway through the 2019 campaign and drove alongside Verstappen in 2020, but was demoted back to the role of development driver for the 2021 season following the arrival of Sergio Perez.

However, the 25-year-old was subsequently confirmed as Russell’s replacement at Williams following news of his departure, where he will partner Nicholas Latifi.

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And now via YouTube, Williams have released a video of the ‘handover’ – which starts with Albon offering Russell a bottle of Heineken after pronouncing “I owe you a beer.”

Russell is then seen amusingly working his way through a box of gifts for Albon, first offering him a ‘George Russell 63 cap’ before giving him a book titled ‘Microsoft Powerpoint for dummies’.

Further presents included white jeans, a Williams drinks bottle, a flag, and a Williams Racing pass.

He concluded the handover by offering the Thai driver a new pair of sunglasses, at which point Albon said: “I think this is all I need to become a Williams driver so thank you for that.”

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He also got the last laugh in by telling Russell: “I don’t think I’ll be needing the shirt obviously – because you’re always topless.”

Of course, matters will soon get a lot more serious for both drivers, with Russell tasked with trying to match seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes.

He has previously stated his intention to compete to be the top driver at the ‘Silver Arrows’, a feat that Bottas was unable to achieve despite helping them to eight straight constructors’ titles.

Russell was dubbed ‘Mr Saturday’ last season for his tendency to over-perform in qualifying in what was essentially an uncompetitive Williams car, but the jury will now be out as to whether he can take that good form into races.

Albon meanwhile, will be out to resurrect his career after being named the FIA Rookie of the Year in 2019.

The following season he finished seventh in the standings with 105 points after two podium finishes, but that wasn’t enough to persuade Christian Horner and co to keep him as a frontline driver.

Last season, Williams were eighth in the standings.

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