On Wednesday morning, after a tense 24 hours following the report that Lewis Hamilton tested positive for Covid-19 and would be sitting out of the Sakhir GP, it was announced that George Russell would be standing in and driving the Mercedes.
It’s been in the pipeline that George could gain a permanent seat at Mercedes AMG F1 Team in the future for a while, with many hoping that he would be released from his current Williams Racing contract and into the Merc for 2021. However, in August, Mercedes opted to retain Valtteri Bottas on a one year deal, extending their relationship into a fifth season.
So, why is George so highly rated with F1 fans? Is he good enough to be the future of Mercedes?
No points and a career best finish of 11th is something that wouldn’t usually appeal, however you can only drive what is under you and for George, that is an extremely uncompetitive car. What he has managed to do with the FW43 this year has been impeccable. After his most recent race weekend, he now sits amongst some of the greatest drivers of all time with the record of consecutively outqualifying teammates, with George achieving his 36th in succession.
Mr Saturday also brings a positive, constructive and eager to learn approach to every weekend and within the team, despite not bringing in the desired results. Of course, as impressive as this is – is it enough to secure him a place at the top? The general consensus around George is that he is a talented young driver, and we have not been able to see him shine, due to his current position in F1. Therefore, we look into the past.
Russell began karting in 2006 and right through to his final year, 2013, won many titles such as the CIK-FIA European Championship. In 2014, George competed in the BRDC Formula 4 Championship with defending champions Lanan Racing and clinched the title in the final race of the season by just 3 points; earning himself a chance to test a GP3 car with Arden Motorsport. After competing in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship for two seasons, Russell signed with ART Grand Prix for the 2017 GP3 Series season and joined the Mercedes-AMG junior driver programme. It was here where he was most successful, and dominated the season. Four victories, three pole positions and five further podiums saw him through to take the Championship with one round to go after winning race 2 in Jerez.
In January 2018, George was confirmed as a driver for ART Grand Prix for the FIA Formula 2 Championship, as well as being confirmed as the Mercedes reserve driver. After a season long fight with Lando Norris, George won the drivers’ championship in the feature race at Abu Dhabi and soon graduated to Formula One with Williams Racing.
George Russell is clearly a very talented driver, with a bright future. His career has been undeniably successful with a few championship wins under his belt and some very impressive race victories. This weekend though, he needs to show that he is the man for Mercedes and is a potential future Formula One World Champion.