Mercedes has finally confirmed George Russell for season 2022 and beyond.
The worst-kept secret in Formula One became public a day after Valtteri Bottas was allowed a dignified announcement that he was leaving the black arrows for a multi-year deal with Alfa Romeo.
But it’s not the only driver deal of the day, as AlphaTauri has decided to stick with Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda for next year.
“I’m excited and humbled to be joining Mercedes next year. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t absolutely buzzing. It’s a huge opportunity and one I want to grab with both hands,” says Russell, who has finally got the promotion from the Mercedes-powered Williams team after a string of giant-killing performances in 2020 and 2021.
“But I’m under no illusions as to the scale of the challenge; it’s going to be a steep learning curve.”
There were predictable tributes and thank you talk from Russell and Bottas, while team chief Toto Wolff – also Russell’s manager – painted a predictable picture of the changing of the guard at Mercedes.
“This hasn’t been an easy process or a straightforward decision for us,” says Wolff. “Valtteri has done a fantastic job over the past five seasons and he has made an essential contribution to our success and to our growth. He would absolutely have deserved to stay with the team . . . and he will forever be part of the Mercedes family.
“Looking forward to 2022, we are very happy to confirm that George will have the opportunity to take the next step in his career and join Mercedes. 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.
“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.”
The weight has really lifted for Russell, and the same is true for the pair at AlphaTauri.
“I am very happy to be moving forward with Scuderia AlphaTauri for another season in Formula 1, especially after seeing the progress that we’ve made as a team since I first joined in 2017,” says Gasly. “Seeing the performance we’ve shown so far this season, I think there are great things to achieve for the rest of this season and for next year, especially with the upcoming changes to the championship in 2022.”
Tsunoda has been fast, but often flawed, during a rookie season that was backed by Honda, so is clearly relieved to have earned a renewal. He has even relocated to Italy to be closer to the team.
“I’m so thankful to the team for letting me continue to grow my experience in Formula 1 with them,” Tsunoda says. “I have a very good relationship with Pierre, I have learnt a lot from him already this year, and his experience has helped me to keep developing my own skills. Having recently moved out to Faenza I am feeling very settled within the team and am looking forward to the upcoming season.”