Following Valtteri Bottas’ departure to Alfa Romeo Racing, Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team has today announced that George Russell will be team-mate to Lewis Hamilton from 2022.
The Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team confirmed yesterday that it would part ways with Valtteri Bottas, who will join the Alfa Romeo Racing outfit next year. The Finn joined Mercedes in 2017, scoring 9 race wins, 54 podiums and 17 pole positions to date with the team.
The Anglo-German outfit has now announced that Bottas will be replaced by Russell, who will become team-mate to reigning seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, beginning from the 2022 Formula One season as the sport enters a new era of technical regulations.
“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.
“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,” added Russell.
The 23-year-old joined the Mercedes Young Driver Programme in 2017 after finishing second and third in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship in the previous two seasons.
In 2017, he stepped up into the GP3 series and clinched the title in his debut year, scoring four wins and four pole positions. The following season saw Russell race in Formula One’s main feeder series, the FIA Formula 2 Championship. After winning seven races, the King’s Lynn-born driver claimed the title in his first year in the series which arguably played a part in Williams’ decision to sign him for the 2019 F1 season.
Russell’s F1 career highlight came at last year’s Sakhir Grand Prix where he stood in for Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes. The Briton was on course to win the race after taking early control from the race start and leading the race. However, with 20 laps remaining, Mercedes team mechanics fitted Bottas' front tyres on Russell's car, causing him to have to re-pit on the next lap to correct the error. Ultimately, he finished in ninth place, earning his first three points, two for the 9th position and one additional point for the fastest lap.
In the rain-affected Belgian Grand Prix qualifying session, Russell qualified in second place behind Max Verstappen. As the weather conditions did not allow to stage the Spa race, the qualifying order defined the race results, meaning that Russell scored his first podium with Williams.
Commenting on the announcement, 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.
“Looking forward to 2022, 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. Now, it is our challenge together to help him continue learning within our environment and alongside Lewis, the greatest F1 driver of all time,” Wolff concluded.
💬 “Looking forward to 2022, we are very happy to confirm that George will have the opportunity to take the next step in his career and join Mercedes.”— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) September 7, 2021