The future is now?
With Lewis Hamilton testing positive for COVID-19 and officially out at this weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix, Mercedes had to replace the seven-time world champ with someone — and who better than someone with zero career Formula 1 points?
Williams’ George Russell is set to take Hamilton’s seat, surprising many, but bringing joy to more.
While Stoffel Vandoorne is the signed reserve driver for Mercedes, calls for Russell among fans were exceptionally loud, and not without reason: As part of Mercedes’ driver program, Russell is likely to be readied and fitted for a seat inside a Silver Arrow at some point in the coming years.
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Russell is still searching for his very first F1 point, and he’ll likely not get a better opportunity to finish in the top 10 than he will while behind the wheel of a Mercedes this weekend. As a driver for Williams racing over the past two seasons, Russell has knocked on the points door just twice, finishing 11th in the 2019 German Grand Prix and the 2020 Tuscan GP.
Russell does have a championship pedigree, with top finishes in Formula 2 and GP3 in 2018 and 2017, respectively.
Needless to say, fellow F1 drivers and supporters of Russell were thrilled with the announcement:
Happy for you @GeorgeRussell63! Perfect man for the job… Now I’m gonna have to be the one defending from you hahah! 😠
— Lando Norris (@LandoNorris) December 2, 2020
In 2014 a young man by the name of George Russell cooly handled the pressure to win the final race of the BRDC F4 Championship here at Snetterton and become champion…
… this weekend he races for Mercedes-AMG in F1. What a story.
Good luck, George! pic.twitter.com/LzbENGWLPD
— Snetterton Circuit (@SnettertonMSV) December 2, 2020
— Dan Cammish (@DanCammish) December 2, 2020
Formula 2 driver Jack Aitken will fill Williams empty seat this weekend.