Just 24 hours after the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team announced that Lewis Hamilton would be missing the Sakhir GP due to testing positive for COVID-19, the team has announced his temporary replacement.
Many speculated that Stoffel Vandoorne would fill in for Lewis as he is the team’s official reserve driver. However, it has just been announced that Williams driver George Russell will take over Hamilton’s car this weekend instead.
George Russell is a Mercedes-backed driver and part of their Junior program since 2017 when he won the GP3 championship. Russell has been long rumored to move to the Mercedes-AMG F1 team should Lewis Hamilton leave the team. It looks like this weekend George is going to get a taste of what the future may hold.
As for the Williams team, they have announced that their reserve driver Jack Aitken will take over for Russell this weekend.
I suspected this may have been a possibility but I was unsure if Williams would be ok with loaning out their #1 driver to another team; Though it look like Mercedes-AMG and Williams worked things out.
This development should make for a very interesting grand prix weekend. Many Lewis Hamilton detractors have suggested that the 7-time world champion is only successful because he has been in the best car. Suggesting that if any other driver were in Lewis’ car they would be just as dominant.
While I personally completely disagree with that argument, I have to admit that I am curious to see how someone else would do in Lewis’ car.
There is also a good chance that Lewis Hamilton will miss the last race of the season in Abu Dhabi as well due to his mandatory quarantine. So there is a possibility that Russell will finish out the season with Mercedes-AMG F1 rather than Williams F1.
How do you think George Russell will do in Lewis Hamilton’s car? Will he dominate? Or will the heightened attention get to him? Looks like we will all find out this weekend.
For the full statement from the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team, scroll below.
Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team confirms George Russell for Sakhir GP
The Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team is delighted to announce that George Russell will race for the team at this weekend’s Sakhir GP, replacing Lewis Hamilton who is unable to compete.
George has been released by our partner team Williams Racing in order to join Mercedes this weekend in Bahrain.
He becomes just the fifth driver to race for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team since 2010, and the third Briton to represent Mercedes-Benz in F1 after Sir Stirling Moss and Lewis Hamilton.
George has been a member of the Mercedes-Benz Junior Programme since 2017, when he won the GP3 Series championship as a rookie, before repeating the feat in Formula 2 in 2018. He has been a fully fledged Formula One race driver with Williams Racing since 2019, demonstrating impressive qualifying and race performances during the past two seasons.
“First and foremost, I wish to thank our loyal partners at Williams for their collaboration and open-mindedness in making it possible for George to race for Mercedes this weekend. The conversations with the team at Williams were positive and pragmatic, and those were the key factors in reaching an agreement,” commented Team Principal and CEO Toto Wolff.
“It will not be a straightforward task for George to make the transition from the Williams to the W11, but he is race-ready and has detailed understanding of the 2020 tyres and how they perform on this generation of cars. George has shown impressive form this year with Williams, playing an instrumental role in their climb up the grid, and I am optimistic that he will deliver a strong performance alongside Valtteri, who will be a demanding reference for him.
“This race will mark a small milestone for us, as we see a member of our Junior programme compete for the works Mercedes team for the first time. We have a job to do this weekend, and the full focus of our sporting efforts will be behind Valtteri and George in order to maximise our points score as a team. But, of course, our thoughts are also with Lewis, and we will be supporting him as much as we can to make a rapid recovery during his period of self-isolation.”
The team’s driver plans for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be announced in due course following the race weekend.