George Russell is now confirmed to join Mercedes from F1 2022 onward alongside Lewis Hamilton, as his three-year wait has come into fruition.
Ever since Russell made his F1 debut with Williams in 2019, the British driver has been largely tipped to join Mercedes at some point of his career. He had a three-year contract with the Grove-based outfit, which has been fulfilled duly.
The biggest hurdle for Mercedes was a pairing of Hamilton and Russell, which many believe could end up like how it was with Nico Rosberg. But with the seven-time world champion now stepping towards his retirement time, the team has to look forwards.
With Valtteri Bottas announced to leave Mercedes for Alfa Romeo in 2022, Russell has fulfilled his dream of driving for Mercedes factory team – which technically did already happen in Bahrain last year, when he replaced the British driver.
Russell seemingly was already told about the move at Spa, with the decision perhaps taken even before summer break. In his tenure at Williams – when the team has been at its lowest – the Brit has scored a podium, along with streak of Q3 finishes.
“It’s a special day for me personally and professionally, but also a day of mixed emotions,” said Russell, signed up in a ‘long-term’ deal. “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,” summed up Russell.
At the same time, Toto Wolff, added: “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.
“I am confident that as their relationship grows, they will form a strong team and deliver for Mercedes on and off the track in the years ahead. It’s a weight off our shoulders to have our plans for 2022 clear and announced; but now, our focus returns to the final nine races of this season and putting everything into our challenge for this year’s world championships.”
Here’s news on AlphaTauri retention
Here’s news of Valtteri Bottas joining Alfa Romeo
Here’s Toto Wolff on Dutch GP happenings