GEORGE RUSSELL will leave Williams for Mercedes at the end of the season, and his current boss has warned Lewis Hamilton that the young Brit won’t be settling for being the No 2 driver.
Lewis Hamilton has been warned his status as the Mercedes No 1 driver will come under threat from George Russell next year. The 23-year-old will form a mouth watering all-British partnership with Hamilton next season when he joins the Silver Arrows from Williams, replacing the outgoing Valtteri Bottas.
Russell has impressed this season in what is viewed as an uncompetitive car, winning his first points for the team with an eighth place finish at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
It was in Belgium however, where he really rose to prominence, qualifying second behind Max Verstappen in a session plagued by torrential rain.
The adverse weather continued into the following day, meaning only two safety car led laps were possible in the actual Grand Prix, and Russell was awarded second place with half-points being awarded to the top 10 qualifiers.
By then, speculation was already rife that Russell, who stood in for Hamilton at Mercedes at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix, would be signed up by Toto Wolff for 2022 – and sure enough the news was confirmed the following week.
The youngster has since finished in the points in races in both Italy and Russia, and his impressive displays in qualifying have seen him dubbed ‘Mr Saturday’ by F1 pundits.
Only this week he outlined his intentions to work in tandem with the seven-time world champion, but Williams boss Jost Capito had no hesitancy when asked if Russell is ready to challenge his more esteemed colleague from the off.
“Yes, he is,” Capito told Sport1. “I’ve worked with a lot of drivers, but George is really great, also with how he can assemble a team behind him.
“At 23 he is already unbelievably far progressed. The really important thing is his strength to deal with pressure. The greater the pressure, the stronger he becomes.”
Russell will be replaced by German driver Alex Albon at Williams next year, and Capito admitted his departure would be a blow.
“Of course I’m sad that he’s leaving,” he continued. “On the other hand, I’m happy for him because he’ll be part of an absolutely top team. He learned a lot from Williams and definitely deserves it.”
How things pan out between Russell and Hamilton, 36, will be fascinating given the latter is no stranger to having frosty relations with teammates.
His four-year partnership with Nico Rosberg at Mercedes was plagued by tension and ill-feeling as the pair battled for supremacy, and the world championship.
Hamilton’s debut season, in 2007, also became infamous for the way he upstaged Fernando Alonso at McLaren, a scenario which rattled the Spaniard and he terminated his contract there at the end of the campaign.
However, thus far he’s had nothing but praise for the incoming Russell, and hopes he can even help mentor the rising star.
“We will of course compete against each other and of course I want to win the duel, but I hope that I can also have a positive influence on how he behaves in the team,” he told told Auto-Motor-Und.