Following yesterday's announcement, Lewis Hamilton is forced to sit out this week's Formula 1 race. This is after he tested positive for COVID-19 after the Bahrain Grand Prix. The seven-time champion is currently self-isolating and recuperating at the time of this writing.
Since then, the question has been, who will take his place? Now we have an answer, and it's George Russell from Williams.
“I just want to use this opportunity to say a massive thank you to everybody at Williams for their support in giving me this incredible opportunity to race for Mercedes this weekend”, said the sophomore driver.
In some ways, Russell is the best substitute Mercedes-AMG can get for Hamilton. The young Briton clinched his first Formula 2 title in his rookie year. Since 2017, he has been closely tied to Mercedes-Benz.
For the past two seasons, he has also been making the most out of the Williams, outqualifying some drivers in inferior machinery. If Russell can squeeze out that much from his current car, we can expect great things from him once he gets on board Hamilton's race car.
Now, this doesn't mean Russell will drive for Mercedes-AMG next season. He says that he is still “100 percent a Williams driver”, and his contract with the team means he will run with them next year. He did say he will make the most out of this opportunity and give valuable input to Williams.
However, this does mean there's a lot more pressure on Valtteri Bottas this race weekend. Should Bottas be outpaced by the 2018 Formula 2 champion, it might cast some doubt over his future standing with his team. At the same time, Russell has a lot to prove, and a strong result with the Mercedes-AMG race car might be his quick ticket to the top AMG-powered teams.