Russell subs for Hamilton in Sakhir GP
TDT | Manama
The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com
Mercedes F1 Team announced yesterday that George Russell would race for the team at this weekend’s Formula 1 Rolex Sakhir Grand Prix in place of Lewis Hamilton who is unable to compete.
Williams have released Russell in order to join Mercedes for the coming weekend at Bahrain International Circuit (BIC).
He becomes just the fifth driver to race for Mercedes since 2010, and the third Briton to represent Mercedes-Benz in F1 after Sir Stirling Moss and Hamilton. Russell has been a member of the Mercedes-Benz Junior Programmesince2017, when he won the GP3 Series championship as a rookie, before repeating the feat in Formula 2 in 2018.
He has been a fully-fledged F1 race driver with Williams since 2019, demonstrating impressive qualifying and race performances during the past two seasons.
“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,” commented Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff.
“The conversations with the team at Williams were positive and pragmatic, and those were the key factors in reaching an agreement. “It will not be a straightforward task for George to make the transition from the Williams to the W11, but he is race-ready and has detailed understanding of the 2020 tyres and how they perform on this generation of cars.
“George has shown impressive form this year with Williams, playing an instrumental role in their climb up the grid, and I am optimistic that he will deliver a strong performance alongside Valtteri [Bottas], who will be a demanding reference for him.
“This race will mark a small milestone for us, as we see a member of our Junior programme compete for the works Mercedes team for the first time.
“We have a job to do this weekend, and the full focus of our sporting efforts will be behind Valtteri and George in order to maximize our points score as a team. But, of course, our thoughts are also with Lewis, and we will be supporting him as much as we can to make a rapid recovery during his period of self-isolation.”
It is unclear whether Russell will also be racing for Mercedes at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from December 11 to 13. Mercedes said yesterday that their plans for the UAE event would be announced in due course, following the F1 Rolex Sakhir Grand Prix.
Meanwhile, standing in for Russell at Williams for this weekend’s racing will be Jack Aitken, who will compete alongside Nicholas Latifi.
Aitken is currently the team’s reserve driver and will now make his F1 debut. The 25-year-old is no stranger to Williams’ FW43, having taken part in an FP1 session earlier in the season at the Styrian Grand Prix.
Alongside his reserve driver duties, Aitken has been competing in Formula 2 this year, scoring two podiums and eight other points finishes.