George Russell was confirmed Tuesday as the Mercedes teammate of Lewis Hamilton for the 2022 Formula One season.
After being speculated for months, the all-British lineup was signaled Monday by Valtteri Bottas’ move from Mercedes to Alfa Romeo next year.
Russell, 23, said in a statement he’s “absolutely buzzing. 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.”
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said he was looking forward to the team continuing Russell’s driver education.
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
“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,” Wolff said in a statement.
Russell received a long-term contract, but Mercedes did not elaborate.
Russell is a Mercedes protege after joining the team’s young driver program in 2017. That year he won the GP3 series, and the next year the Formula Two championship.
He drove once for Mercedes, last December, when he replaced a COVID-stricken Hamilton at the Sakhir Grand Prix. Russell was leading after 63 laps until a pit stop error by the team.
“It is our challenge together to help him continue learning within our environment and alongside Lewis, the greatest F1 driver of all time,” Wolff said. “I am confident that as their relationship grows, they will form a strong team and deliver for Mercedes on and off the track.”
“Through hard work, he has rightly earned a spot on our team,” Hamilton tweeted about Russell.
I want to take a moment to welcome @GeorgeRussell63 to the team. Through hard work he has rightly earned his spot. I look forward to seeing him grow as a driver with this great team and working with him to raise @MercedesAMGF1 higher. See you next year🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/CRsgrilmUd
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) September 7, 2021
Since 2019, he has been at Williams, where he’s excelled in a much slower car, notably at the recent Belgian GP where he qualified and finished second in a race shortened to four laps by rain.
He said he’s keen to make the last nine races of this season, starting with the Italian GP this weekend, his best for Williams.
“I’ve loved every moment in what I’d describe as a true heart and soul racing team,” Russell said, “and I’ll be pushing harder than ever to make sure we end our story in the best possible way.”
You never forget your first…once a Williams driver, always a Williams driver 💙
— Williams Racing (@WilliamsRacing) September 7, 2021