George Russell confirmed as Hamilton’s new F1 teammate at Mercedes | Formula One
Mercedes has confirmed that George Russell will join the team and partner of world champion Lewis Hamilton next season. The announcement has been overdue for some time and represents a huge opportunity for the 23-year-old British pilot from King’s Lynn.
Mercedes has dominated Formula 1 for the past seven years and Russell now has a chance to compete in what will undoubtedly be one of the best cars on the grid in 2022. Hamilton last drove in an all-out duo. British with Jenson Button at McLaren between 2010 and 2012.
Russell is currently in his third season in F1 behind the wheel of Williams, where he has outperformed one of the slowest cars in the business, completing an impressive series of workouts that have attracted attention on several occasions. He has been part of the Mercedes Young Driver Program since 2017 and his stint at Williams was seen as a period of gaining experience in preparation for his stint at Mercedes at some point. The length of the contract was not disclosed.
“It’s a special day for me personally and professionally. I’d be lying if I said I absolutely don’t buzz. It’s a huge opportunity, ”he said. “I have no illusions about the magnitude of the challenge – it will be a steep learning curve. I want to make my new teammates proud. Of course, one of these new teammates is in my opinion the greatest rider of all time.
“I have admired Lewis since I got into karting and the opportunity to learn from someone who has become a role model both on and off the track can only benefit me as a driver, pro and human being. “
Russell made his mark with such authority the promotion came sooner than expected after the below-average performance of current Hamilton teammate Valtteri Bottas this season.
Mercedes team manager Toto Wolff admitted the decision to ditch Bottas for Russell was not an easy one, but was optimistic the new roster would prove to be formidable.
“It is our challenge together to help George continue to learn in our environment and alongside Lewis, the greatest F1 driver of all time,” he said. “I have no doubts that as their relationship develops they will form a strong team and live up to Mercedes on and off the track for years to come.”
Hamilton was supposed to help keep Bottas with whom he has developed a friendly and positive working relationship since the Finn joined Mercedes in 2017. However, Bottas rarely threatened the world champion on track and did not subject him to any real pressure for the title. he was challenged by former teammate Nico Rosberg. Hamilton can expect a much more severe test from Russell.
Russell has repeatedly proven his credentials as a top driver over the past three seasons. When given the chance to drive the Mercedes, replacing a Covid-hit Hamilton at Sakhir’s GP last year, he delivered a masterful performance. On a victory, he was refused only by a puncture and a rare error at the Mercedes pit. At the Belgian GP this year, he had a remarkable run in qualifying in the wet to place his Williams in second place on the grid.
He showed great prowess in qualifying but also has a fearlessness and feel in the race that Hamilton would recognize. At the French GP in 2019, Russell rounded his teammate Robert Kubica at just under 200 mph in the dreaded Signes bend, a moment of breathtaking skill and courage.
At last weekend’s title rival Netherlands GP, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who leads the three-point championship, warned that Russell “would make it very difficult for Lewis”.
How Hamilton adjusts to a new teammate and one who is likely to threaten him more than Bottas will be fascinating, especially since Mercedes’ policy is to allow their drivers to go head-to-head without priority or order. Hamilton, now in his 15th F1 season, is 36 and has committed to racing with Mercedes for another two years. He insisted that he would welcome the new challenge of one of the next generations of F1.
Russell, however, showed moments of weakness that Mercedes hopes they can eliminate. Notably a fall behind the safety car in 2020 at Imola during the Grand Prix of Emilia Romagna and similarly in the same race this year when he crashed with Bottas while trying to overtake on a track humid.