George Russell has been chosen by Mercedes to drive the car of Lewis Hamilton at the Shakir Grand Prix, where the seven-time world champion will not be able to compete after contracting the coronavirus.
“George has been released by our partner Williams Racing team to join Mercedes this weekend in Bahrain. He becomes the fifth driver to compete for the Mercedes team since 2010 and the third Briton to represent Mercedes-Benz in F1 after Sir Stirling Moss and Lewis Hamilton, ”the German team recalled in a statement.
Russell has been a member of the Mercedes-Benz Young Drivers Program since 2017, when he won the Series championship GP3 as a rookie, before repeating that same success in Formula 2 in 2018. Since last year he has been a starting driver for Williams, where he has left outstanding performances despite the weakness of his car.
“It will not be an easy task for George to transition from Williams to W11, but he is ready for the race and has a detailed understanding of the tires and how they work on this generation of cars. George has shown impressive form this year with Williams, playing a key role in his rise on the grid, and I am optimistic that he will put on a great performance alongside Valtteri Bottas, who will be a demanding reference for him. ” , Toto Wolff.
The Mercedes reserve driver is the Belgian Stoffel VandoorneBut the German team has chosen to give Russell this great opportunity to evaluate him as an option for the future. For his part, another British pilot, Jack Aitken, will fill his vacancy at Williams over the next weekend.
Pressure and responsibility
This replacement presents an extraordinary challenge for Russell. On the one hand, he will have the opportunity to drive a winning car, with which Hamilton has already achieved 11 victories this season. For someone like him, used to performing in the rear positions of the grid, it will be a great incentive.
But the Englishman will not be oblivious to the pressure, and although no one is going to ask him to win the race, the responsibility of doing an unbeatable performance will fall on his back so that Mercedes will take him into account in the near future.
The grand prize will also serve as a scrutiny for Valtteri Bottas. The Finn will take over the leadership of the world champions for a weekend. Any result behind Russell will be a discredit to him.
Russell has competed in 36 grands prix and has not yet been able to score a single point.