Williams has announced the signing of young British racer George Russell from the 2019 Formula 1 season.
The 20-year-old will make his F1 debut in 2019 joining the Grove-based outfit in a multi-year agreement – thereby making it three British racers on the grid alongside Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris.
“It is a huge honour to join a team of Williams’ prestige and heritage,” said Russell. “Formula One has been a life-long dream. From watching the races when I was a child, it feels surreal that I will now be lining up on the grid, alongside drivers whom I have admired for years.
“I would like to thank Claire and everyone at Williams for their faith in making this decision, as well as Toto and the team at Mercedes for their fantastic support throughout GP3 and Formula 2.
“I am incredibly excited to start working with everyone at Grove and to take my first steps as a Formula One race driver. I cannot wait for Melbourne next year and to join Williams at the start of what we all believe will be the start of an exciting new journey.”
Claire Williams added: “I am delighted to announce that George Russell will be joining Williams from the 2019 season. We have always tried to promote and develop young talent at Williams, and George fits that ethos perfectly.
“He is already highly regarded in the paddock and a driver whose career we have been watching for a while. In the time we have spent with him so far, we believe that he will be a great fit for our team.
“His commitment, passion and dedication is exactly what we need to drive the positive momentum building at Grove as we focus on the future. We are extremely excited to welcome George and work with him moving forward.”
The Mercedes junior is one step away from winning the FIA Formula 2 Championship with ART Grand Prix this year which will complete the cycle for the British racer to have won both GP3 Series and F2 in consecutive years.
Prior to that, he finished third in the FIA European Formula 3 Championship in 2016 while he won the BRDC British Formula 4 Championship in 2015 – all of the accomplishment coming as a rookie driver in his year.
Interestingly, he joins Williams at a time when fellow Mercedes junior Esteban Ocon is also in the market but with a heavy price tag. Williams was said to be on his list but it seems like the Frenchman will have to take a backseat in 2019.
The announcement doesn’t mention if he replaces Lance Stroll but it seems like a giveaway as the Canadian is expected to join Racing Point Force India. The toss-up for the second seat in Williams is likely to be between Sergey Sirotkin, Robert Kubica and Artem Markelov.