Lewis Hamilton's 'natural ability is fantastic' says Button
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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff believes that George Russell and Lewis Hamilton will strike up a formidable partnership next season as they go in search of additional championship titles following the departure of Valtteri Bottas at the end of the year. The Finn will join Alfa Romeo on a multi-year deal ahead of the 2022 campaign, with Russell being confirmed as his long-term replacement at Mercedes on Tuesday morning.
The 23-year-old has established himself as one of the grid’s most talented drivers since making his debut in F1 back in 2019.
He has effectively been on loan at Williams for the last three years and has never been out-qualified by a team-mate during his time with the historic British outfit.
Russell went on to impress as Hamilton’s stand-in at last year’s Sakhir Grand Prix and could have won the race if his efforts were not curtailed by a botched pit-stop and an unfortunate slow puncture.
The man from Norfolk has successfully maintained his upward trajectory this season, earning 13 championship points and producing arguably the best qualifying performance of all time to put his Williams car on the front row at Spa last month.
He claimed his maiden podium finish on the same weekend, with the race results declared after just one lap under the safety car due to very wet conditions.
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Wolff, who will be hoping that Russell can keep up his impressive form at Mercedes next season, appears to be confident that his faith in the Williams man will be justified over the next few years.
The 49-year-old told the Mercedes website that he is expecting Hamilton to form a strong partnership with his new team-mate as the Silver Arrows look to carry their recent dominance of the sport into a brand new era.
“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,” said Wolff.
“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.
“Now, it is our challenge together to help him continue learning within our environment and alongside Lewis, the greatest F1 driver of all time.
“I am confident that as their relationship grows, they will form a strong team and deliver for Mercedes on and off the track in the years to come.
“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.”
Meanwhile, Russell was quick to outline his delight after the big news was confirmed on Tuesday.
In a statement posted to his official website, he thanked Williams for their support over the last three years and insisted that he is more than ready to meet the lofty expectations that he will be met with upon his move to Mercedes.
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“Since I joined [Williams] in 2019, we have worked tirelessly to push each other forward and bring the team back up the grid where it belongs,” said Russell.
“We’ve battled for every qualifying position, every point, and every tenth of a second. No matter how tough it’s been, nobody has ever given up, and that has inspired me every day.
“I’ve loved every moment in what I’d describe as a true heart and soul racing team, and I’ll be pushing harder than ever to make sure we end our story in the best possible way.
“Looking ahead to next season, 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.
“But I’m under no illusions as to the scale of the challenge; it’s going to be a steep learning curve.”
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