George Russell replaces Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes for Sakhir GP
December 2 2020 , 10:58 am
Williams’ George Russell to race next to Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes after Lewis Hamilton contracted Covid-19; Jack Aitken to make his F1 debut at Williams; Russell has been highly-rated since F1 debut last year and is on Mercedes’ books.
Jack Aitken, a 25-year-old British-Korean, will race in Russell’s place at Williams for his F1 debut.
Russell’s career has been backed by 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 Wednesday morning.
From driving for the team at the bottom of the championship, he will now race Mercedes’ dominant W11 this weekend as team-mate to Valtteri Bottas. Despite several near-misses and an immaculate qualifying record over his F1 team-mates after 36 races, Russell has yet to score points in F1.
“Firstly, I want to say a huge thank you to everybody at Williams for giving me this opportunity. 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,” said Russell, the 22-year-old.
“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.
“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. 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.”
“First and foremost, I wish to thank our loyal partners at Williams for their collaboration and open-mindedness in making it possible for George to race for Mercedes this weekend. The conversations with the team at Williams were positive and pragmatic, and those were the key factors in reaching an agreement,” said Wolff.
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