George Russell has been confirmed as Lewis Hamilton’s new team-mate at Mercedes from the 2022 season, after Valtteri’ Bottas’ move to Alfa Romeo was announced on Monday.
Sportsmail revealed last week that Toto Wolff has decided to draft in the 23-year-old Englishman to the Mercedes side, who currently lead Red Bull in the constructors’ standings this season.
Wolff, who has been planning for life after seven-time F1 champion Hamilton who turns 37 in January, revealed that signing Russell from Williams has been a ‘weight off our shoulders’.
George Russell’s long-awaited move to Mercedes has finally been confirmed
Russell (left) will link up with seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton (right) from 2022
Mercedes confirmed the news on Tuesday, a day after announcing Valtteri Bottas’ departure
The Mercedes supremo said: ‘Looking forward to 2022, we are very happy to confirm that George will have the opportunity to take the next step in his career and join Mercedes.
‘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 to come.
Russell, 23, will link up with Mercedes after three years at Williams, picking up one podium
‘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.’
As Sportsmail revealed last week, the decision to bring in Williams’ Russell has not gone down well with Hamilton, with the move going ‘down like a lead balloon’ with the current F1 champion.
A well-placed source told Sportsmail: ‘Toto has made up his mind to bring in George. Lewis has been told and he’s not happy.
‘He wanted Valtteri as a team-mate because he is compliant and not quite quick enough to trouble him, but that’s not what is happening.
Toto Wolff’s (right) decision to sign up Russell is not popular with F1 champion Hamilton (left)
‘You could say, as far as Lewis is concerned, it’s gone down like a lead balloon.’
Russell, meanwhile, has revealed he is looking forward to learning off Hamilton, who he has looked up to ever since he first entered the industry.
The 23-year-old told Mercedes: ‘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.
‘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.
Russell admits he is ‘absolutely buzzing’ to be joining up with Mercedes next season
‘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.’
Hamilton, meanwhile, paid tribute to former team-mate Bottas who has joined up with Alfa Romeo, describing the Finn as his ‘best team-mate’.
On Monday, the 37-year-old shared several images of himself with Bottas with the accompanying caption: ‘I’m immensely proud to have worked alongside Valtteri for the last five years.
Hamilton (left) shared a touching tribute to Valtteri Bottas (right) who will join Alfa Romeo
Hamilton thanked Bottas for his contributions and called him his ‘best teammate’ (above)
‘Together, we’ve been part of a team that has delivered four Constructors’ Championships, and we’ve motivated one another to keep pushing through the ups and the downs.
‘He has been the best teammate I’ve had the pleasure of working with. Your speed and resilience has been impressive but where you truly stand out to me is the human being you are and gentleman. You are greater than you know and I know there’s a bright future ahead for you.
‘Thank you Valtteri for all your support and amazing contributions to this team. You will be missed. I wish you all the best for your future endeavours. Let’s finish off strong and get that 8th for the team.’
Russell will now focus on the remainder of the F1 season with Williams, with the 23-year-old 15th in the standings on 13 points.
His only podium of the season came in the Belgian Grand Prix last month, where he finished second ahead of Hamilton, but behind Max Verstappen.