George Russell and Lewis Hamilton: Are they friends, Williams man discusses Mercedes icon

George Russell and Lewis Hamilton: Are they friends, Williams man discusses Mercedes icon
News Williams sign Mercedes junior Russell on multi-year deal
F1s grid for 2019 has edged closer to completion with the news Mercedes reserve driver George Russell will make his race debut with Williams next season…

Russell, who has driven in two FP1 sessions for Force India and four tests for Mercedes, will take Lance Strolls seat at Williams with his team mate yet to be announced.

Now, supposedly adding insult to career injury, a driver lower in the Mercedes pecking order has secured one of the seats Ocon viewed as his last chance. Williams has confirmed George Russell for 2019, meaning Mercedes will have a junior on the grid but not the one it has spent the past few months declaring a future world champion.

Mercedes have been pushing to find Russell, the reigning GP3 champion who joined the Mercedes junior programme at the start of 2017, a seat on the grid next year following an impressive season in Formula 2.

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The Briton leads the F2 title race by 37 points from Alexander Albon with only 48 available in next months finale in Abu Dhabi.

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Russell will be the first British driver to race full-time for Williams since Jenson Button in 2000 and will be just 21 when he lines up on the grid in Melbourne, Australia next March.

Reigning Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton said Ocon being out of a drive shows the championship is in a “weird place” with a structure that is “probably wrong”. Mercedes boss Toto Wolff slammed the “politics” and “lies” he believes are behind his protege facing a season on the sidelines.

We have always tried to promote and develop young talent at Williams, and George fits that ethos perfectly, said Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams.

He is already highly regarded in the paddock and a driver whose career we have been watching for a while.

Canadian Lance Stroll is leaving the team at the end of the year to join Force India. This has not yet been officially confirmed but is an open secret within F1. The 19-year-olds father Lawrence Stroll led a consortium of businessmen that rescued Force India when it went into administration in the summer and wants his son to drive for his own team.

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.

“F1 is not just about the driver or the car. You all have to work together to get the best out of each other, and that is something I am really going to be working on – on building these relationships within the team, having trust from all aspects that we are all on the same page and all going in the same direction.”

Feature How Russell sealed a 2019 drive with Williams

News of Russells multi-year agreement was delivered to staff at the teams UK factory on Friday morning with the Briton having a chance to meet some of the people hell be working with next year.

“I have never been thrown in at the deep end. I started off with a private test in a 2015 car at the start of last year before getting the opportunity to test the 2017 car in Budapest and then into the P1 sessions with Force India.

It is a huge honour to join a team of Williams prestige and heritage, said Russell. Formula 1 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 whom I have admired for years.

Russell made first contact with Williams

I would like to thank Claire and everyone at Williams for their faith in making this decision, as well as Toto (Wolff) and the team at Mercedes for their fantastic support throughout GP3 and Formula 2.

“He is portrayed as a guy who from the outside maybe doesnt look as interested in F1 as he does other aspects of life, but he is extremely motivated and really works hard to get the best out of all of his people.

I am incredibly excited to start working with everyone at Grove and to take my first steps as a Formula 1 race driver. I cannot wait for Melbourne next year and to join Williams at the start of this exciting part of their journey.

“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.

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F1 news – George Russell completes British trio in Formula One

There will be a second rookie on the grid for next season, as George Russell will drive for the Williams Martini Racing team.

The Brit, who is almost nailed on to win the F2 Championship in Abu Dhabi, is part of the Mercedes young driver programme.

20-Year Old George Russell Earns 2019 Williams Racing F1 Seat

The 20-year-old has signed a “multi-year agreement” with the team, but will still remain linked to Mercedes.

Russian Sergey Sirotkin is keen to keep his seat at the team after beating off rivals to get on the F1 grid last winter.

“It is a huge honour to join a team of Williams’ prestige and heritage,” Russell said.

He shared the news with his parents first – they were in Sochi for his F2 race. Then there was the chat with Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff, who was up against it to find seats on the F1 grid in 2019 for his protégés – Russell and Esteban Ocon. He was absolutely delighted. After everything that has gone on, its a huge relief that we managed to get this across the line and were going to be on the F1 grid.

“I would like to thank Claire [Williams] and everyone at Williams for their faith in making this decision, as well as Toto [Wolff] and the team at Mercedes for their fantastic support throughout GP3 and Formula 2.

Staff were told at Williams factory in Grove on Friday morning before the news of Russells multi-year contract was publicly announced, giving the 20-year-old an opportunity to meet the people that hell be working with next year. However, he knows his main focus has to be the F2 finale in Abu Dhabi, where he leads Alexander Albon by 37 points with a potential 48 on offer.

“I am incredibly excited to start working with everyone at Grove and to take my first steps as a Formula 1 race driver.

It all started with a phone call back in July. With his heart set on racing in Formula 1 next year, Mercedes junior George Russell rang Williams Chief Technical Officer Paddy Lowe and said Paddy, I want to be in F1 next year and I want to be in a Williams car – can we arrange a meeting with Claire [Williams, Deputy Team Principal] and yourself to discuss this further?

“I cannot wait for Melbourne next year and to join Williams at what we all believe will be the start of an exciting new journey.”

Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams was criticised earlier this year for signing Sergey Sirotkin up for 2018.

Mercedes have always had the approach that if were performing and doing the job, they will do everything in their power to give us the opportunity. Regardless of what happened to Esteban, I was reaching all my targets set for me from Mercedes and they believed I deserved an opportunity. And did everything they could to help me secure that.

The Russian was the last man to score a point, having only managed to do so in Monza at the start of September.

“I had a phone call with Paddy and I told him, ‘I want to be in Formula 1 next season and I want to be in a Williams, can we have a meeting with yourself and Claire, and discuss the matter further?’

F1 to welcome third British driver to grid next year after George Russell confirmed by Williams

Now, though, Williams has said that the team has “always tried to promote and develop young talent at Williams, 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,” she continued.

Russell made call to Lowe that led to 2019 F1 Williams drive

“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 has said in the past that the team would not pay for its juniors to find seats in F1, which could be one of the reasons that Esteban Ocon might be out of a seat.

So one seat at Williams is now filled, but it is anyones guess as to who gets the other seat, with Lance Stroll expected to be at Racing Point Force India for 2019.

“It was probably the Hockenheim weekend [that was] the first indication or point of contact with Williams and things started progressing from there.”

George Russell gets Williams F1 race seat for 2019

Will Sergey Sirotkin keep hold of it, or will Robert Kubica come in and take it? If so, Esteban Ocons chance of remaining in Formula 1 will vanish. Artem Markelov has also been a name banded about for the second seat.