George Russell to team up with Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes in 2022
Sports Desk, Sep 7 (EFE).- Formula One driver George Russell will team up with fellow Brit and seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes next year, the team announced Tuesday.
The news comes after Valtteri Bottas announced Monday that he would leave Mercedes to join Alfa Romeo in 2022.
Russell, 23, who joined the Mercedes young driver’s program in 2017, made his F1 debut in 2019 with British constructor Williams.
“It’s a special day for me personally and professionally, but also a day of mixed emotions. 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,” Russell said in a statement shared by his future team.
“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.”
Russell stood in for Hamilton at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix when the latter was ruled out with Covid-19.
He was in the lead with 20 laps to go when the Mercedes team botched the pit stop by fitting Bottas’ old front tyres to Russell’s car. He was forced to return to the pit and later suffered a puncture. He finished in P9.
Mercedes F1 team principal, Toto Wolff said: “This hasn’t been an easy process or a straightforward decision for us. Valtteri has done a fantastic job over the past five seasons and he has made an essential contribution to our success and to our growth.
“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.”
Hamilton, widely regarded as one of the greatest F1 racers of all time, is gunning for a record-breaking eighth world championship this year but faces tough competition from his main rival, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who currently tops the 2021 leaderboard.