SAKHIR, Bahrain – Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team announced Wednesday that George Russell will race for the team during the Sakhir Grand Prix at Bahrain Int’l Circuit.
Russell is replacing Lewis Hamilton, who is unable to compete due to a positive COVID-19 test result, and has been released by Mercedes’ partner team Williams Racing in order to join the squad in Bahrain.
He becomes just the fifth driver to race for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team since 2010, and the third Briton to represent Mercedes-Benz in Formula One after Sir Stirling Moss and Lewis Hamilton.
“First and foremost, I wish to thank our loyal partners at Williams for their collaboration and open-mindedness in making it possible for George to race for Mercedes this weekend. The conversations with the team at Williams were positive and pragmatic, and those were the key factors in reaching an agreement,” said Team Principal and CEO Toto Wolff.
“It will not be a straightforward task for George to make the transition from the Williams to the W11, but he is race-ready and has detailed understanding of the 2020 tyres and how they perform on this generation of cars. George has shown impressive form this year with Williams, playing an instrumental role in their climb up the grid, and I am optimistic that he will deliver a strong performance alongside Valtteri, who will be a demanding reference for him.
“This race will mark a small milestone for us, as we see a member of our Junior program compete for the works Mercedes team for the first time. We have a job to do this weekend, and the full focus of our sporting efforts will be behind Valtteri and George in order to maximize our points score as a team. But, of course, our thoughts are also with Lewis, and we will be supporting him as much as we can to make a rapid recovery during his period of self-isolation.”
Russell has been a member of the Mercedes-Benz Junior Programme since 2017, when he won the GP3 Series championship as a rookie, before repeating the feat in Formula 2 in 2018.
He has been a fully fledged Formula One race driver with Williams Racing since 2019, demonstrating impressive qualifying and race performances during the past two seasons.
“Firstly, I want to say a huge thank you to everybody at Williams for giving me this opportunity. I might be wearing a different race suit this weekend, but I’m a Williams driver and I’ll be cheering my team on every step of the way,” noted Russell. “I see this as a great chance to learn from the best outfit on the grid right now and to come back as an improved driver, with even more energy and experience to help push Williams further up the grid. A big thank you also to Mercedes for putting their faith in me.
“Obviously, nobody can replace Lewis, but I’ll give my all for the team in his absence from the moment I step in the car. Most importantly, I wish him a speedy recovery. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity and can’t wait to get out on track this week.”
The team’s driver plans for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be announced in due course following the race weekend.