In an announcement that shocked no one, Mercedes has confirmed that Formula One (F1) young gun George Russell will join the team next season. The new pairing will see Russell partner seven-time world champion, Lewis Hamilton for arguably the strongest team on the grid. It’s also the first time since 2012 that Hamilton has driven in an all-British pairing.
It’s official. Next year, I’ll be a Mercedes F1 driver. This is a special day for me and I want to say a huge thank you to @WilliamsRacing, @MercedesAMGF1 and everyone who has supported me in getting to where I am today. I couldn’t have done it without every single one of you. 💙 pic.twitter.com/MmGA1vr9mR
— George Russell (@GeorgeRussell63) September 7, 2021
For Russell, the change of scenery is a monster step up. The 23-year-old is currently driving for Williams ad has put together a string of impressive races over the past few months, catching the eye of the Mercedes team. But it’s not as if he was unknown to the F1 giant. Russell has been part of the Mercedes young driver programme since 2017 and it was largely accepted that he would eventually step up into the Mercedes role, perhaps just not this soon.
“It’s a special day for me personally and professionally. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t absolutely buzzing. It’s a huge opportunity,” he said. “I’m under no illusions as to the scale of the challenge – it’s going to be a steep learning curve. I want to do my new teammates proud. Of course, one of those new teammates is in my opinion the greatest driver of all time,” Russell said. “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.”
— Valtteri Bottas (@ValtteriBottas) September 6, 2021
For F1 fans, Russell’s appointment isn’t exactly shocking. For the past few months, speculation has been mounting that the young gun would be making the transition over the Mercedes, following some below-par performances from Hamilton’s current teammate, Valtteri Bottas, this season. When Tuesday, when Bottas announced he was signing with competitor Alfa-Romeo, it all but sealed the Russell connection.
The reports suggest seven-time champion Hamilton was in favour of retaining Bottas whom he has driven alongside since 2017, however, his performances failed to live up to Mercedes lofty expectations. With fearless Russell behind the wheel, Hamilton’s biggest competition may now be his compatriot, not that Hamilton showed any concerns.
“I want to take a moment to welcome George Russell to the team. I remember meeting him when he was young, dreaming of one day being a Formula 1 driver. I’d only just reached my own dream of becoming an F1 driver, so I know what this day means and how it will feel for him,” Hamilton wrote on Instagram. “He is a great example to all the kids out there that dreams do come true when you chase them wholeheartedly. Through hard work he has rightly earned his spot on our team. I look forward to seeing him grow as a driver with this great team and working with him to raise Mercedes AMG F1 higher.”