George Russell will replace Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team
The Silver Arrows announced that the young Brit will join the team on a long-term contract from 2022. The news had been the worst kept secret in Formula 1. Most expected it to only be a matter of time until the announcement. It will be a new era for Mercedes, saying goodbye to Bottas who helped the team to four constructor titles in four years. He has a chance to make it five from five this year, with the Mercs currently holding a 12 point lead over rivals Red Bull as it currently stands, after the Dutch Grand Prix. 2022 will bring a new driver to reigning World Champions, as well as new technical regulations.
What Has George Russell Achieved?
Russell became a Mercedes junior driver back in 2017. That year he went on to win the GP3 title, before claiming the Formula 2 title the year later. These accomplishments earned him his first seat in F1 with Williams. This almost felt like a loan from Mercedes. Many deemed Russell to end up with the Silver Arrows eventually.
The twenty-three-year-old has always outperformed the car. Williams have been arguably the worst car on the grid in Russell’s time with the team, but he has still shown his pace. He has never been beaten by a Williams teammate in qualifying, catapulting the team into Q3 more than once. Russell recently gained plenty of plaudits for his stunning lap at Spa. Where he qualified on the front row behind Max Verstappen, one place ahead of Lewis Hamilton. Only two laps were completed behind a safety car given the treacherous weather conditions and he was granted 2nd place, his first podium in F1. This came after he scored his first points for Williams at the previous race in Hungary.
We have already seen Russell behind the wheel of the Mercedes car. He got the call up to replace Lewis Hamilton at the end of last season for the Sakhir GP. The Seven-Time World Champion was side-lined with Covid. It was all going to plan for Russell in Sakhir last season. The Brit performed a stunning overtake on teammate Bottas and the win was in his sights.
On lap 63, under a virtual safety car, Mercedes went to double-stack in the pits, calling both drivers in for fresh tyres. An error during the pit stop meant they got Russell and Bottas’ tyres mixed up. This led the Brit to have to pit again to correct the error, losing more time in the race. With even fresher tyres, Russell began hunting down the leaders, but disaster struck again. On lap 78 a rear left puncture forced him to pit again for new tyres, leaving him languishing in 14th position. He managed to climb up to 9th while also gaining a bonus point for the fastest lap.
Despite the unfortunate events beyond Russell’s control, it was a highly impressive Mercedes debut. There’s plenty to be excited about, a top young driver joining the most dominant team of the last seven years.
Who Said What?
George Russell told Mercedes: “It’s a huge opportunity and one I want to grab with both hands. I’m under no illusions as to the scale of the challenge; it’s going to be a steep learning curve.”
Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff had the following to say: “Now, it is our challenge together to help George continue learning at Mercedes and alongside Lewis, the greatest F1 driver of all time.”
New team mate for the 2022 season, Lewis Hamilton sent the following message of support out on his own social media: “I want to take a moment to welcome George Russell to the team. I remember meeting him when he was young, dreaming of one day being a Formula 1 driver. I’d only just reached my own dream of becoming an F1 driver, so I know what this day means and how it will feel for him. He is a great example to all the kids out there that dreams do come true when you chase them wholeheartedly. Through hard work he has rightly earned his spot on our team. I look forward to seeing him grow as a driver with this great team and working with him to raise Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 higher. See you next year.”
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