Russell joins youth’s rise to the top of F1
LONDON, September 7 (Reuters) – George Russell’s move to Mercedes as Lewis Hamilton’s teammate next year, announced on Tuesday, means each of Formula One’s top teams will have a bright young star in their driver lineup.
Russell is only 23, the same age as Red Bull championship leader Max Verstappen and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, and with a similar talent that Mercedes ultimately couldn’t put on the back burner.
In 50 races for Williams, he has over-qualified his teammate 50 times. He placed the eighth-ranked team on the first row of the grid and on the podium, but with second place in a “race” without overtaking in Belgium.
“The past three seasons with Williams have given us a taste of what the future may hold for him in F1,” Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said of a 13-year-old driver. young than the seven-time world champion Hamilton.
Fellow Briton Lando Norris, who pushed hard in his third full season with McLaren, is 21 while French Alpine driver Esteban Ocon is 24.
Verstappen, Leclerc and Ocon are Grand Prix winners – 17 times in the event of the Red Bull driver’s meteoric rise – and it sure won’t be long before Russell joins them.
“It is certainly very positive,” said Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto of what appears to be a golden period ahead as the sport enters a new era with rule changes aimed at making racing more close.
“There are a lot of young drivers out there who are doing really, really well … maybe this is the best young driver time we’ve had in F1.”
McLaren Racing chief executive Zak Brown, speaking at the Dutch Grand Prix last weekend, said the sport was in a “mega exciting” place.
“All the great teams are going to have their young driver and I am very optimistic about the future of Formula 1, I am excited about the new car, I think the cost cap is working,” he added.
“Led by these superstar drivers with the great teams, I think it’s going to be extremely exciting the next decade of Formula One.”
Formula 1 still has three multiple world champions in Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel, but the future is here and hungry.
“It’s so important to be part of a top team as a young driver from the start, so that you can show what you can do,” 1996 British world champion Damon Hill said on television. Sky Sports.
The rise is long overdue, with rivals Russell and Norris in Formula 2 in 2018 after Leclerc won the title in 2017, while Verstappen and Ocon faced off in European Formula 3.
“I remember meeting him when he was young, dreaming of one day being a Formula 1 driver,” said Hamilton of Russell after the announcement.
“He is a great example to all children that dreams come true when you pursue them with all your heart. Through hard work, he has rightly earned his place on our team.”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ed Osmond
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