George Russell has finally been announced as Lewis Hamilton’s team mate for the 2022 season at Mercedes.
Rumours have been flying for months about the swap, and after Alfa Romeo announced Raikkonen’s replacement as Valtteri Bottas for next year, it was only a matter of time before the British driver was announced in the second coveted seat.
Taking to social media in delight, Russell said; “It’s a special day for me personally and professionally, but also a day of mixed emotions.
“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.
“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’s going to 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 that Toto [Wolff, Team Principal], 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.”
🙏💙 @GeorgeRussell63 pic.twitter.com/XqtSKTpJUz
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) September 7, 2021
Wolff paid a deserved tribute to Bottas, saying he was part of a “benchmark partnership” with Hamilton, but said he was glad to see one of Mercedes’ junior drivers getting the chance to drive their epic car.
“This hasn’t been an easy process or a straightforward decision for us,” he said.
“Valtteri has done a fantastic job over the past five seasons and he has made an essential contribution to our success and to our growth.
“Together with Lewis, he has built a benchmark partnership between two team mates in the sport, and that has been a valuable weapon in our championship battles and pushed us to achieve unprecedented success.
“We are very happy to confirm that Russell will have the opportunity to take the next step in his career and join Mercedes,” Wolff continued.
“He has been a winner in every racing category – and the past three seasons with Williams have given us a taste of what the future could hold for him in F1.
“Now, it is our challenge together to help him continue learning within our environment and alongside Lewis, the greatest F1 driver of all time.
“I am confident that as their relationship grows, they will form a strong team and deliver for Mercedes on and off the track in the years ahead.
“It’s a weight off our shoulders to have our plans for 2022 clear and announced; but now, our focus returns to the final nine races of this season and putting everything into our challenge for this year’s world championships.”
Williams have yet to confirm Russell’s replacement, however, rumours are rife around Red Bull reserve Alex Albon taking the seat alongside Nicholas Latifi.