Mercedes has just confirmed George Russell as its new driver for 2022, making him the new teammate of seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton. After a long period of speculation that Russell could get into the Mercedes, this week all the dice fell into place.
First Raikkonen announced his departure from F1 at the end of the year, and then Alfa Romeo announced Bottas as its new driver yesterday. Only Mercedes' official confirmation from Russell was awaited, and it arrived a few moments ago.
The young Briton finally got the well-deserved invitation of his home team after 3 years in Williams. When announcing Russell as the new driver for his team, Mercedes stated that the Briton signed a "multi-year contract" starting in 2022.
This is a clear indication that Mercedes is slowly preparing the ground for Hamilton's retirement potentially after the current contract expires at the end of 2023 .and that they will build the future around Russell.
His predecessor Bottas, on the other hand, always received only one-year contracts. "I would be lying if I said I wasn't excited. This is a huge opportunity and I want to grab it with both hands, "said Russell.
Russell has been a member of Mercedes ’junior driver program since 2017 and won the GP3 series title that year. A year later, he won the F2 title, and Mercedes agreed a three-year contract with Williams for Russell. Although Williams had huge problems, Russell still managed to show how talented he is and bring them some amazing results.
He won his first points for the team at the Hungarian GP this season, and in Belgium, he took second place in an incredible lap in the rainy qualifiers, which a day later in the ‘race’ turned into his first podium in his career.
Russell is also no stranger to driving for Mercedes. Last year, he replaced Lewis Hamilton at the Sakhir GP, who was positive for COVID-19 and almost won. Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is convinced that Russell will integrate into the team without any problems: "He was the winner in every racing category, and the last 3 seasons at Williams gave us an insight into what kind of future he can have in F1.
Now our challenge is to help him learn about our environment with Lewis, the greatest F1 driver of all time. ” "I am convinced that they will form a strong team as their relationship grows and that it will bring results to Mercedes both on and off the track in the coming years."
"We no longer have a burden on our backs because we know our plans for 2022, but we are now focused on the last 9 races of this season and on our title fight, ”Wolff said.