Following the confirmation on Monday that Valtteri Bottas will join the Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN team next season, the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team has announced that George Russell will replace the Finn.
Russell has been part of the Mercedes-Benz junior programme for a number of years and has been linked to replacing Bottas as Lewis Hamilton’s team-mate thanks to his impressive performances for the Williams Racing team across the past three campaigns.
And now another part of the puzzle for the 2022 season has been put into place with the confirmation that Russell will race for Mercedes next year, and Russell says the announcement is a special day for him on both a personal and professional level, even if there is sadness that he will be leaving Williams.
“It’s a special day for me personally and professionally, but also a day of mixed emotions,” said Russell. “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.
“It has been an honour working alongside every member of the team, and an honour to represent the Williams name in F1. Since I joined in 2019, we have worked tirelessly to push each other forward and bring the team back up the grid where it belongs.
“We’ve battled for every qualifying position, every point, and every tenth of a second. No matter how tough it’s been, nobody has ever given up, and that has inspired me every day. I’ve loved every moment in what I’d describe as a true heart and soul racing team, and I’ll be pushing harder than ever to make sure we end our story in the best possible way.”
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t absolutely buzzing”
Russell says he is ‘buzzing’ ahead of his move to the front-running Mercedes team, and he wants to grab the opportunity with both hands and push Hamilton all the way.
He says his predecessor Bottas has set the bar high and he will need to raise his own game, but he has thanked Toto Wolff and the board at Mercedes for the opportunity to race for the team.
“Looking ahead to next season, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t absolutely buzzing,” he added. “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. Valtteri has set a high bar, consistently delivering week in and week out, scoring wins, pole positions and helping win multiple championship titles.
“My target must be to reward the trust that Toto, the team, and the board have placed in me by ensuring I play my part in continuing that success and I want to do my new team-mates proud. Of course, one of those new team-mates is in my opinion the greatest driver of all time.
“I’ve looked up to Lewis since I was in go-karts and the opportunity to learn from someone who has become a role model both on and off track can only benefit me as a driver, a professional, and a human being.”
Russell says he will be doing everything he can to leave Williams on a high, and after his first two points finishes for the team in Hungary and Belgium, he is hoping for more top ten finishes in the remaining nine races.
“For now, though, I have nine more races as a Williams driver, and I want to make sure they are the best nine of my time with the team,” Russell said. “Then, and only then, can I turn my attention to 2022.
“A huge thank you to Williams, to Mercedes and to everyone who has supported me in getting to where I am today. I couldn’t have done it without every single one of you.”