Norfolk-born George Russell gets F1 drive with Williams
PUBLISHED: 10:47 12 October 2018 | UPDATED: 16:04 17 October 2018
King’s Lynn-born George Russell will race in F1 for Williams next season, after agreeing a multi-year deal with the iconic British team.
The 20-year-old former Wisbech Grammar School student from Tydd St Giles, will follow in the footsteps of 2009 world champion Jenson Button, who made his debut for Williams nearly two decades ago.
Highly-rated Russell is the reserve driver for Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes team this year and following the promotion of Lando Norris to McLaren, he will now become the second British rookie on the grid in 2019.
Russell is also on the brink of securing the Formula Two championship – the feeder series to F1 – following an impressive debut campaign in which he has won six races.
He holds a 37-point title lead with just the season-deciding races in Abu Dhabi to come next month.
“It is a huge honour to join a team of Williams’ prestige and heritage,” said Russell. “Formula One has been a life-long dream.
“From watching the races when I was a child, it feels surreal that I will now be lining up on the grid alongside drivers I have admired for years.
“I cannot wait for Melbourne next year and to join Williams at the start of what we all believe will be an exciting new journey.”
Russell has tested for Mercedes on several occasions and competed in practice sessions with Force India at last year’s Brazilian and Abu Dhabi grands prix.
He will be the first English driver to compete for Williams since Button was handed his debut as a 20-year-old in 2000.
Deputy team principal Claire Williams added: “We have always tried to promote and develop young talent here, and George fits that ethos perfectly.
“He is already highly regarded in the paddock and a driver whose career we have been watching for a while.
“In the time we have spent with him so far, we believe that he will be a great fit for our team; his commitment, passion and dedication is exactly what we need to drive the positive momentum building at Grove as we focus on the future.”
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, a keen admirer of Russell, will have played an instrumental role in moving him to Williams.
The two teams share a close relationship, with Mercedes supplying engines to the Oxfordshire outfit, while Russell has been on the books of the Silver Arrows since the start of last year – ties that may well continue beyond Russell’s contract at Grove.
Williams have enjoyed a glorious past, winning a combined 16 drivers’ and constructors’ championships – but they are currently in the midst of a miserable campaign that leaves them rooted to the foot of the constructors standings with just seven points.
Russell will replace Lance Stroll who is bound for Force India next year after his fashion billionaire father Lawrence helped buy the Silverstone team.
The identity of Russell’s team-mate for 2019 is not yet know, with Russian Sergey Sirotkin currently occupying the other seat.