George Russell has become the third British driver confirmed for the 2019 F1 season after the 20-year-old signed a ‘multi-year agreement’ with Williams.
Russell, who is on the verge of becoming the 2018 F2 champion, will make his debut for the British team at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix next year.
He becomes the third UK driver to be confirmed for the 2019 season, along with world champion Lewis Hamilton and new McLaren racer Lando Norris.
George Russell has become the third British driver confirmed for the 2019 F1 season
Williams will hope the 20-year-old British racer can revive their recent flagging fortunes
Born: Bristol, 13 November 1999
2019 F1 team: McLaren
Despite admitting he was more keen on motorbike racing as a youngster, Norris started in karting aged seven.
He won the world championship aged 14, the youngest person ever to do so.
He moved up through the junior series before facing in F3 in 2017 with Carlin. He won the title with 53 points to spare from his nearest rival.
Norris had in February that year been signed to McLaren’s junior driver programme, and in August set the second fastest time in F1 mid-season testing at Hungary.
After an attempt by Toro Rosso to sign him was rejected, McLaren confirmed Norris in their F1 race team for 2019.
Born: King’s Lynn, 15 February 1998
2019 F1 team: Williams
Russell also started his career in karting, in 2006, going on to win a string of British championships.
He moved into single seater racing in 2014, winning the F4 title.
Russell graduated to F3 the following year, like Norris he raced for Carlin. In 2017 he moved to GPS with ART, and won the title in his rookie season.
ART moved Russell up to F2 for the 2018 campaign, and he is on the verge of the title, with a 37 point championship lead. Only 40 points are still available.
Russell served as Mercedes test and reserve driver in 2018, before Williams offered him a race seat.
Russell said: ‘It is a huge honour to join a team of Williams’ prestige and heritage. Formula One has been a life-long dream. From watching the races when I was a child, it feels surreal that I will now be lining up on the grid, alongside drivers who I have admired for years.’
After starting his racing life in karting, Russell has enjoyed a hugely successful career in single-seater racing series.
He won the BRDC Formula 4 series at the first attempt in 2014, before winning the GP3 series in 2017 with two races to spare.
This season in F2 – regarded as a direct feeder series to F1 – he is 37 points clear at the top with one race left with 40 points available, with Norris in third place.
He has also served as a test driver for F1 world champions Mercedes this season, making him first reserve behind Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.
Russell was test driver for Mercedes this season and is on the verge of becoming F2 champion
Williams deputy team principal Claire WIlliams said: ‘We have 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 becomes the third Brit confirmed for F1 in 2019, with Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris
Williams were the only team not to confirm either of their drivers for the 2019 season before announcing Russell, and it remains to be seen whether Lance Stroll or Sergey Sirotkin are maintained in race seats for next season.
The Oxfordshire-based team, who have raced in F1 since 1977 and have won nine constructors’ championships, have fallen on harder times in recent years.
Currently they are last in the standings out of the 10 constructors, with just seven points all season and a best race finish of eighth, by Stroll in Azerbaijan.
Both Stroll and Sirotkin bring huge sponsorship deals from Canada and Russia respectively, but Williams may look to partner Russell with an experienced racer, such as 2018 test driver Robert Kubica.