Following Valtteri Bottas’ switch to Alfa Romeo, George Russell has duly been announced as a Mercedes driver for 2022.
Russell, a long-time member of the Mercedes junior programme, made himself the overwhelming favourite for a promotion with a solid run of performances so far in 2021.
Already the Briton has featured in the points twice, the second of those being his maiden podium finish with P2 at the Belgian Grand Prix.
It’s official. Next year, I’ll be a Mercedes F1 driver. This is a special day for me and I want to say a huge thank you to @WilliamsRacing, @MercedesAMGF1 and everyone who has supported me in getting to where I am today. I couldn’t have done it without every single one of you. 💙 pic.twitter.com/MmGA1vr9mR
— George Russell (@GeorgeRussell63) September 7, 2021
With Russell’s eye-catching performances juxtaposing Bottas’ mediocre campaign at Mercedes, the calls were growing louder for a change – and that is exactly the route Mercedes have taken.
“It’s a special day for me personally and professionally, but also a day of mixed emotions,” said Russell in Mercedes’ official announcement of the news.
“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.
You never forget your first…once a Williams driver, always a Williams driver 💙
— Williams Racing (@WilliamsRacing) September 7, 2021
“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 will 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 Toto [Wolff], 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.
“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. 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.”
The PlanetF1 verdict:
George Russell to Mercedes confirmed
George Russell has been announced as a 2022 Mercedes driver to partner Lewis Hamilton.