F1: Mercedes sign Russell to partner Hamilton for 2022
Mercedes F1 Team have announced that they will field an all-British driver line-up next season consisting of Seven Time World Champion Lewis Hamilton and young protege George Russell.
Ever since George Russell substituted for Lewis Hamilton at last year's Sakhir GP, the F1 paddock had been waiting in anticipation for Russell to finally get the call up to join the Reigning World Champions.
TYRE DISASTER: Having qualified in 2nd, Russell had taken the lead of the race only to be robbed of victory due a tyre mix-up and a puncture
Having won F1's junior series F2 in 2018, Russell was drafted into the Williams team for the 2019 Season, where he has been since, but with such a legendary name, the Grove squad have struggled over the past couple of seasons.
Despite their struggles, Russell has been the driving force behind the team's revival and has yet to be out-qualified by any team-mates he's raced against while at the team. This includes Robert Kubica who he was partnered with in 2019 and incumbent Nicholas Latifi who have formed Williams' line-up for the past two seasons.
Driving for one of the slowest cars over the past three seasons, Russell has extracted the absolute maximum, especially in qualifying where he has escaped the bottom five regularly and even managed to break into the top-ten shoot-out.
However, from next season onwards, Russell should be making the top-ten shoot-out more often and is expected to have several opportunities from starting races from the front of the grid.
RAW SPEED: Over the past three seasons, Russell has earnt the name "Mr Saturday" due to his impressive one-lap pace during the Qualifying sessions
With Russell impressing at Williams and Valterri Bottas struggling to compete every single race on Lewis Hamilton's level, Mercedes had been faced with a decision heading into this year. As Bottas announced his departure form the Silver Arrows to drive for Alfa Romeo, the paddock knew that Russell would be getting the call up to take the Finn's spot.
“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." George Russell
Announced at around miday, Russell has signed a long-term race deal with drive at the team for the coming seasons. At 23 years old, it's expected that Russell will take the role of second driver at the moment but that will turn into the role of team leader once Hamilton decides his time in F1 is at an end.
Russell is having one of his best seasons to date as he scored his first points for Williams in Hungary and took his first ever career podium with second at the rain-curtailed Belgian GP. He currently lies 15th in the standings with 13 points to his name so far this season.
DELIVERING RESULTS: Russell produced one of the best laps of 2021 to start the Belgian GP from third and due to the insane amount of rain, that's where he finished
Since being with the team since 2017, Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff commented on how difficult the decision was to let Bottas go. Wolff said: “This hasn’t been an easy process or a straightforward decision for us."
Russell has ben part of the Mercedes family since 2017 after signing on to their Young Driver Programme. With his move to Mercedes, Russell aims to thank the team for keeping their faith in him by delivering solid results next season.
“We are very happy to confirm that George will have the opportunity to take the next step in his career and join Mercedes. He has been a winner in every racing category – and the past three seasons with Williams have given us a taste of what the future could hold for him in F1. Toto Wolff
Mercedes are now the sixth team to confirm their line-up for next season.