Rus­sell com­pletes Bri­tish trio in F1

Gulf Times Sport - - SPORT -

Ge­orge Rus­sell will join Lewis Hamil­ton and Lando Nor­ris in a trio of Bri­tish For­mula One driv­ers next sea­son af­ter former cham­pi­ons Wil­liams an­nounced yes­ter­day they had signed the young­ster on a multi-year deal.

The 20-year-old, who has a long-term con­tract with Wil­liams’ en­gine providers Mercedes, looks set to win the For­mula Two cham­pi­onship af­ter tak­ing a 37 point lead with two races to come.

“I feel 100 per­cent ready,” Rus­sell, who will de­but in Aus­tralia in March, told Reuters in an in­ter­view.

“I feel re­ally mo­ti­vated for the task ahead,” added the Bri­ton, who has had to con­tain his ex­cite­ment for weeks af­ter be­ing told at last month’s Rus­sian Grand Prix that he had got the drive.

“For­mula One has been my life­long am­bi­tion and dream, so to fi­nally get this op­por­tu­nity... I’m def­i­nitely not go­ing to take this for granted.”

Hamil­ton, who can clinch his fifth world cham­pi­onship in Texas next week, is at Mercedes while Nor­ris, 18, will be mak­ing his race de­but with McLaren in 2019 af­ter com­pet­ing against Rus­sell in For­mula Two.

Wil­liams have had a slow and ill-han­dling car this year and are last in one of the worst sea­sons in the his­tory of a proud Bri­tish team with nine con­struc­tors’ and seven driv­ers’ cham­pi­onships.

The tall Rus­sell fol­lows in the foot­steps of 2009 world cham­pion and com­pa­triot Jen­son But­ton, who was handed his de­but by team founder Frank Wil­liams as a 20-year-old in 2000 and won the ti­tle with Brawn GP.

Bri­tons Da­mon Hill, in 1996, and Nigel Mansell, in 1992, both took their cham­pi­onships with Wil­liams, who have not won a race since 2012.

“We have al­ways tried to pro­mote and de­velop young tal­ent at Wil­liams, and Ge­orge fits that ethos per­fectly,” said deputy prin­ci­pal Claire Wil­liams.

“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.”

Wil­liams gave no de­tails about who their other driver would be, but 19-year-old Cana­dian Lance Stroll looks cer­tain to move to Force In­dia — a team now con­trolled by his bil­lion­aire father Lawrence.

The fu­ture of Rus­sian Sergey Sirotkin, who made his de­but with Wil­liams this year, re­mains un­cer­tain with fi­nan­cial con­sid­er­a­tions pos­si­bly com­ing into play.

Mercedes have yet to se­cure a seat for young French­man Este­ban Ocon, who also has a longterm con­tract with the reign­ing cham­pi­ons but is set to lose his Force In­dia place to Stroll.

Poland’s Robert Ku­bica, a former grand prix win­ner, has served as re­serve this sea­son and is keen to make a race re­turn af­ter suf­fer­ing se­ri­ous hand in­juries in a rally crash in 2011.

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