Russell 'excited and humbled' by Mercedes opportunity in 2022

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George Russell is "excited and humbled" after being confirmed at Mercedes in Formula 1 from next season.

After months of speculation, the Briton's move from Williams was finally made official on Tuesday morning, after Valtteri Bottas' switch to Alfa Romeo was announced on Monday.

Russell's promotion has felt inevitable ever since his impressive performance substituting for Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes in last year's Sakhir Grand Prix, when he led most of the race before a tyre mix-up and a puncture denied him victory.

His perfect qualifying record against teammates at Williams has also earned him the nickname of 'Mr Saturday', and at the Belgian GP, George would qualify and finish second in the wet, claiming his first podium in F1 in the process.

In his first comments after his 2022 Mercedes move was confirmed, Russell admitted: “It's a special day for me personally and professionally, but also a day of mixed emotions.

“I’m excited and humbled to be joining Mercedes next year, which is a huge career step, but it also means I’ll be saying goodbye to my teammates and friends at Williams.

"It has been an honour working alongside every member of the team, and an honour to represent the Williams name in F1."

Looking ahead to next season though...

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t absolutely buzzing," Russell admitted. "It’s a huge opportunity and one I want to grab with both hands. But I’m under no illusions as to the scale of the challenge; it’s going to be a steep learning curve.

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“Valtteri has set a high bar, consistently delivering week in and week out, scoring wins, pole positions and helping win multiple championship titles.

"My target must be to reward the trust that Toto [Wolff], the team, and the board have placed in me by ensuring I play my part in continuing that success and I want to do my new teammates proud.

“Of course, one of those new teammates is in my opinion the greatest driver of all time," he added.

"I’ve looked up to Lewis since I was in go-karts and the opportunity to learn from someone who has become a role model both on and off the track can only benefit me as a driver, a professional, and a human being.

“For now, though, I have nine more races as a Williams driver, and I want to make sure they are the best nine of my time with the team. Then, and only then, can I turn my attention to 2022.”

The decision to promote Russell is seen as very much long-term, with the expectation being he'll take over as team leader when Lewis Hamilton does eventually retire.

And that was something which team boss Wolff emphasised.

“We are very happy to confirm that George will have the opportunity to take the next step in his career and join Mercedes,” said the Austrian.

“He has been a winner in every racing category – and the past three seasons with Williams have given us a taste of what the future could hold for him in F1.

“Now, it is our challenge together to help him continue learning within our environment and alongside Lewis, the greatest F1 driver of all time. I am confident that as their relationship grows, they will form a strong team and deliver for Mercedes on and off the track in the years ahead.

“It’s a weight off our shoulders to have our plans for 2022 clear and announced; but now, our focus returns to the final nine races of this season and putting everything into our challenge for this year’s world championships.”