Ex-Wisbech Grammar School pupil replaces Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes for Sakhir Grand Prix

George Russell, who grew up in Tydd St Giles near Wisbech, will replace Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes this weekend. Picture...

George Russell, who grew up in Tydd St Giles near Wisbech, will replace Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes this weekend. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

Formula One driver George Russell will replace Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes for this weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix.

Hamilton has been ruled out after contracting coronavirus and Mercedes-backed Russell will step into the breach.

Russell, a former Wisbech Grammar School pupil who grew up in Tydd St Giles, has been with Mercedes since 2017 and he is effectively on a three-year loan at Williams, where he has impressed since making his F1 debut last season.

Once Hamilton’s absence from the first race of his career was confirmed after a positive Covid-19 test and retest, Mercedes approached Williams to see if a deal to release Russell was possible - with confirmation arriving on Tuesday morning.

Russell, 22, is now looking to seize his opportunity as he prepares to team up with partner Valtteri Bottas and register his first points in F1 this weekend.

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“Firstly, I want to say a huge thank you to everybody at Williams for giving me this opportunity,” he said.

“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.

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“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.”

Russell has received support from Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, who said that although it will not an easy task to switch from the Williams to the W11, he is capable of delivering a strong performance.

The young driver admits that although it is tough to replace the likes of a world champion, he is determined to give his all in Bahrain.

“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,” Russell said.

“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.”

Jack Aitken, a 25-year-old British-Korean, will race in Russell’s place at Williams for his F1 debut.

Since joining Williams, Russell impressed during a difficult 2019 season and now looks to continue building a reputation as one of the sport’s rising stars.

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