King's Lynn-born driver says it's a 'huge honour' to race in F1
King’s Lynn-born George Russell has described the opportunity to race in F1 for Williams next season as a 'huge honour'.
The 20-year-old has agreed a multi-year deal with the iconic British team as he begins the same path taken by 2009 world champion Jenson Button, but will still remain linked to Mercedes.
It completes a meteoric rise in the sport for the former Wisbech Grammar School student from Tydd St Giles who becomes the first F1 driver from West Norfolk since Martin Brundle.
Russell, said: “It is a huge honour to join a team of Williams’ prestige and heritage.
“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.
“Formula One 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 I have admired for years.
“I cannot wait for Melbourne next year and to join Williams at the start of what we all believe will be an exciting new journey.”
Highly-rated Russell is the reserve driver for Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes team this year and following the promotion of Lando Norris to McLaren, he will now become the second British rookie on the grid in 2019.
The youngster is also on the brink of securing the Formula Two championship – the feeder series to F1 – following an impressive debut campaign in which he has won six races.
He holds a 37-point title lead with just the season-deciding races in Abu Dhabi to come next month.
Deputy team principal Claire Williams added: “We have always tried to promote and develop young talent here, 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.”
Russell has tested for Mercedes on several occasions and competed in practice sessions with Force India at last year’s Brazilian and Abu Dhabi grands prix.
He will be the first English driver to compete for Williams since Button was handed his debut as a 20-year-old in 2000.
Williams have enjoyed a glorious past, winning a combined 16 drivers’ and constructors’ championships – but they are currently in the midst of a miserable campaign that leaves them rooted to the foot of the constructors standings with just seven points.
Russell will replace Lance Stroll who is bound for Force India next year after his billionaire father led a buy-out of the Silverstone team.
The identity of Russell’s team-mate for 2019 is not yet know, with Russian Sergey Sirotkin currently occupying the other seat, although young Frenchman Esteban Ocon is being heavily touted with the second spot.