In Depth

Williams sign George Russell for 2019: who is the new British F1 driver?

Russell fulfils his Formula 1 dream at the age of 20 by signing a multi-year contract

George Russell will become Britain’s third Formula 1 driver for the 2019 season after signing a multi-year deal to race for Williams.

The 20-year-old joins fellow Brits Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes and Lando Norris of McLaren on the F1 grid next year. Russell will make his debut at the 2019 Australian Grand Prix in March.

Here we look at his racing background, F1 experience and the reactions to Williams’ new appointment.

Who is George Russell?

Born in King’s Lynn, Norfolk in 1998, Russell currently races in Formula 2 and is a Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport test and reserve driver. He will become the first British driver to race full-time for Williams since Jenson Button in 2000. F1.com reports that he will be 21 when he makes his F1 debut in Melbourne, Australia next March. 

What’s his racing background?

Russell started his career in karting in 2006 before progressing to the single-seat Formula Renault 2.0 in 2014. The same year he also competed in and won the Formula 4 title. He graduated to the FIA Formula 3 European Championship in 2015, where he raced for two seasons.

In January 2017 Russell signed with GP3 outfit ART Grand Prix and won the title in his rookie season. This year he has driven in the FIA Formula 2 championship for ART Grand Prix and leads the F2 title race by 37 points with only 48 still available to be won.

What is his experience in F1?

Russell joined the Mercedes junior driving programme in January 2017. He made his practice debut at the 2017 Brazilian GP with Force India and was named as one of their tyre test drivers after the 2018 Spanish GP in May. This year he has also filled the role as test and reserve driver for Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport.

Who will he partner at Williams in 2019?

Russell has taken Lance Stroll’s spot for next season but Williams are yet to confirm his teammate. Russian driver Sergey Sirotkin currently races for Williams alongside Stroll, who is expected to join Force India.

What he says about the move

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

What Williams Racing say

Claire Williams, deputy team principal, Williams: “I am delighted to announce that George Russell will be joining Williams from the 2019 season. 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.”

Twitter reactions 

How social media users reacted to the news on Twitter:

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