Williams has announced the Formula 2 championship leader George Russell will be one of its race drivers from the 2019 season onwards.
Mercedes youngster Russell is on the verge of wrapping up the F2 title at the final round of the season in Abu Dhabi, needing just 11 points to guarantee the championship. With Williams set to lose Lance Stroll to Force India next season, it has replaced the Canadian with 20-year-old Russell who also won last year’s GP3 crown.
“It is a huge honor to join a team of Williams’ prestige and heritage,” Russell said. “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.
“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.
“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 what we all believe will be the start of an exciting new journey.”
Mercedes was keen to prioritize Russell over Esteban Ocon for the seat in order to gain F1 experience, and Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams says the Briton has been on her radar for some time.
“I am delighted to announce that George Russell will be joining Williams from the 2019 season,” Williams said. “We have 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.
“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. We are extremely excited to welcome George and work with him moving forward.”
Russell will be present at all of the final four rounds of the F1 season in his role as Mercedes reserve driver, alongside his F2 commitments in Abu Dhabi.