Formula One team Williams Racing have signed young British driver George Russell for next season. The 20-year-old is a Mercedes protege but will line up against countryman Lewis Hamilton in 2019.
This year's favorite for the Formula 2 title, George Russell, is set to race for F1 team Williams Racing next season.
According to a statement posted on the team's website, Russell has signed a "multi-year agreement" with Williams Racing but will maintain his link to Mercedes, for which he has acted as a test and reserve driver this season.
The move signals a rapid progression for the highly rated 20-year-old, who stepped up to the F2 this season as the reigning GP3 champion. He's expected to seal the F2 title in next month's Abu Dhabi finale.
"It is a huge honor to join a team of Williams' prestige and heritage," Russell said.
"I am incredibly excited to start working with everyone at Grove and to take my first steps as a Formula One race driver. I cannot wait for Melbourne next year and to join Williams at what we all believe will be the start of an exciting new journey."
Russell will become the third British driver in Formula One next season, the highest number on the grid since 2016, along with Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes and Lando Norris at McLaren.
Williams have endured a difficult season, lying last in the 10 teams competing for the constructors' championship, and are looking to revive their fortunes. Deputy team principal Claire Williams said the team "always tried to promote and develop young talent at Williams 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's teammate is yet to be decided, although current Williams driver Sergey Sirotkin, 23, could line up alongside him.
js/pfd (AFP, Reuters)