Russell replaces Hamilton, Aitken replaces Russell for Sakhir GP

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Mercedes announce George Russell:

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.

Williams F1 Announce Jack Aitken:

Williams Racing can confirm that Jack Aitken will race in this weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix alongside Nicholas Latifi. The 25-year-old takes the place of the team’s regular race driver George Russell, whom the team has released to drive for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team in Bahrain with Lewis Hamilton unable to race due to a positive COVID-19 test.

Aitken is currently the team’s Reserve Driver and will now make his Formula One debut at the penultimate round of the 2020 season. Aitken is no stranger to the FW43, having taken part in an FP1 session earlier in the season at the Styrian Grand Prix. Alongside his Reserve Driver duties, Aitken has been competing in FIA Formula 2 this year, scoring two podiums and eight other points finishes.

George Russell said: “Firstly, I want to say a huge thank you to everybody at Williams for giving me this opportunity. I might be wearing a different race suit this weekend, but I’m a Williams driver and I’ll be cheering my team on every step of the way. I see this as a great chance to learn from the best outfit on the grid right now and to come back as an improved driver, with even more energy and experience to help push Williams further up the grid. A big thank you also to Mercedes for putting their faith in me. Obviously, nobody can replace Lewis, but I’ll give my all for the team in his absence from the moment I step in the car. Most importantly, I wish him a speedy recovery. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity and can’t wait to get out on track this week.”

Jack Aitken commented: “I’m absolutely over the moon to have the opportunity to make my debut with Williams this coming weekend and I am extremely happy for George to have his chance too! I really mean it when I say I’ve felt very much at home here since I joined Williams earlier this year, so to get my chance to help the team try to achieve that elusive points finish is an extremely satisfying occasion to say the least. I’ll be doing all I can to prepare in the coming days, but truthfully, I feel like I have been ready since Melbourne. I also want to wish Lewis well in his recovery, and good luck to George getting the chance to drive the Mercedes this weekend.”

Acting Team Principal, Simon Roberts added: “Our long-term partnership and George’s affiliation with Mercedes is no secret, and so I’m delighted George has this unique opportunity to join Mercedes, the current Constructors’ Champions. We have been working hard to ensure that an agreement could be made with Mercedes to allow him this fantastic opportunity. George very much remains a Williams driver and we look forward to him returning to us fresh from this experience and wish him a successful race this weekend.

“We are also thrilled this means we are able to give another British talent in Jack Aitken the opportunity to make his Formula One race debut. Jack joined Williams at the start of this season, and despite COVID-19 restrictions meaning we haven’t been able to interact with him as much as we would like, he has quickly become a much-liked member of the team. We look forward to seeing him build on his previous experience driving the car in practice, to see what he can do in a qualifying and race situation.”

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Xean Drury

My hopes came true :D So now the question is, what if George beats Valteri in an even race? (Probably won’t because Valteri is a better driver than many make him out to be). Would you give George the seat? That might unsettle Hamilton. If you keep Bottas, would it rattle him too much? Dunno what I would do if I were in Toto’s shoes :|

Peter Riva

As I predicted, this will be a s**t storm no matter how it turns out. If he beats Bottas (absent mechanical issues), Bottas does not have a drive in 2022. If he beats Bottas it sheds light that Hamilton’s success is the car, not the driver’s superiority (which is unfair, but it can be assessed that way). If he gets on the podium – see 2 above. If he gets pole – see 2 above If he wins see 2 above with bells on. If any of the above come true, then the gossip of the superiority of the MB… Read more »


What if he comes in 5th or 6th, then Bottas is happy, Hamilton is happy, and everyone can say ‘well first time in the car….’ ‘did well considering….’

Worthless Opinion

Well regarding point 1 I disagree – more than half of Merc’s success comes from creating a soothing environment for brilliant fragile paranoid Lewis. If Lewis is going to be there next year, looking fast is the worst way to get to the other seat. Bottas takes a lot of stick but he’s like the donkey they put in a stall to keep the race horse company. If you put a real teammate in there you get all the bullshit the team went through with Rosberg.

Paul Kiefer

Is this a temporary arrangement?


Uh-oh… Russell top in fp1… The storm begins…


BOOM. Great job Russell. I agree with all your points but this one: 2. If he beats Bottas it sheds light that Hamilton’s success is the car, not the driver’s superiority At 7 World champs Hamilton has earnt his place in the best car….and has shown with tires and other factors he can make the most of it. What a cracking race this will be as the RBs were closing the time gap by end of FP2. of course we don’t know what they are really running & maybe Mercedes has given Russel wunderkindt practice mode to help him get… Read more »