Mercedes did not want to settle for a reserve driver to replace Lewis Hamilton, who tested positive for coronavirus on Monday. Chose George Russell, one of Williams’ drivers but also a member of the academy of the champion team and a project of Toto Wolff. On Wednesday, Williams accepted and it was confirmed that the Briton will change cars for this weekend’s Grand Prix in Bahrain.
Russell, 22, will be replaced in Williams (powered by Mercedes) while racing for the seven-time world champion team since 2014 by Britain’s Jack Aitken (25 years old). Mercedes thus opted for a driver with more racing experience in 2020 instead of turning to Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne (28), who has not competed in F1 since 2018.
“George has been released by our partner Williams Racing team to join Mercedes this weekend in Bahrain. He becomes the fifth driver to compete for the Mercedes team since 2010 and the third Briton to represent Mercedes-Benz in F1. after Sir Stirling Moss and Lewis Hamilton “, recalled the German team in a statement.
“It will not be an easy task for George to transition from Williams to W11, but he is ready for the race and has a detailed knowledge of the tires and how they work on this generation of cars. George has shown impressive form this year with Williams. , playing a key role in his rise on the grid, and I am optimistic that he will deliver a great performance alongside Valtteri (Bottas), who will be a demanding reference for him, “Mercedes boss Toto Wolff analyzed.
“No one can replace Lewis, but I will give it my all from the moment I sit in his car,” said Russell, who has been a member of the Mercedes-Benz Young Drivers Program since 2017, when he won the GP3 Series championship as a rookie, before to repeat that same success in Formula 2 in 2018.
He has been a Williams starter since last year, and while he has yet to score any points (his best ranking is 11th), he showed that this is due more to the shortcomings of his car than to a lack of skills.
His dream, of course, is to be a Mercedes driver, as he has already stated in the midst of the pandemic. “I am associated with Mercedes and of course it is the dominant force. No Formula 1 driver would turn them down, not even Max or Charles. This indicates how many people would like to be in the Mercedes. My aspirations are clear: I want to be a world champion, “he stressed.
Aitken, for his part, runs in F2, is a Williams reserve driver and participated in the first free trials of the Styrian GP in Austria in July.