George William Russell (born 15 February 1998) is a British racing driver currently competing in Formula One, contracted to Williams.[2] He was the 2018 FIA Formula 2 Champion for ART and the 2017 GP3 Series Champion. Following his Formula 2 championship win, Russell signed for Williams in 2019, making his début at the 2019 Australian Grand Prix, alongside Robert Kubica. Russell is contracted to drive for Williams until the conclusion of the 2021 season, although he stood in for Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix. Russell achieved his first F1 podium with Williams at the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix. He is also a part of the Mercedes Young Driver programme.[3] He is due to join Mercedes full time in the 2022 season.[4]

Personal life

Russell was born in King's Lynn, Norfolk,[5] to father Steve and mother Alison,[6] the youngest alongside two siblings: a sister, Cara, and an older brother, Benjy.[7][8] Russell took up karting at the age of 7, having spent much of his time around karting tracks and his brother Benjy, who was also involved in competitive karting. Growing up in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, Russell was educated at the Wisbech Grammar School,[9] before moving to Milton Keynes at the age of 18 to be closer to his racing teams.[7]

Like his father, he is a fan of Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club.

Junior racing career

Karting

Russell began karting in 2006 and progressed through to the cadet class by 2009, becoming MSA British champion and British Open champion. In 2010 he moved to the Rotax Mini Max category where he became Super One British champion, Formula Kart Stars British champion, and also won the Kartmasters British Grand Prix. Russell graduated to the KF3 class in 2011, winning the SKUSA Supernationals title and becoming CIK-FIA European Championship, a title he successfully defended in 2012.[10] In his final year of karting in 2013, Russell finished 19th in the KF1 CIK-FIA World Championship.[5][11]

Formula Renault 2.0

In 2014, Russell made his single-seater debut, racing in the Formula Renault 2.0 Alps championship. He originally signed to race for Prema Powerteam,[12] before making a last-minute switch to Koiranen GP.[13] Despite missing a round through illness, he finished fourth in the championship, taking a single podium finish at the Red Bull Ring.[14]

Russell also contested two rounds of the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 championship. He took part in the Moscow round with Koiranen GP before switching to Tech 1 Racing for the final round of the season at Jerez. Racing as a guest entrant, he won the final race of the season after starting from pole position.[15]

Formula 4

In 2014, Russell also competed in the BRDC Formula 4 Championship with defending champions Lanan Racing.[16] He entered the final race of the season at Snetterton in a four-way title battle with teammate Arjun Maini and the HHC Motorsport pairing of Sennan Fielding and Raoul Hyman.[17] After starting from pole position, Russell won the race, his fifth of the season, to clinch the title by just three points from Maini.[18]

As a prize for winning the BRDC Formula 4 championship, Russell tested a GP3 car with Arden Motorsport at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.[19] In December 2014, Russell became the youngest-ever winner of the prestigious McLaren Autosport BRDC Award, beating fellow finalists Alexander Albon, Ben Barnicoat, Sennan Fielding, Seb Morris and Harrison Scott to earn himself a £100,000 cash prize, British Racing Drivers' Club membership and a Formula One test with McLaren.[20]

In February 2015, Russell was announced as one of the twelve drivers selected to join the British Racing Drivers' Club SuperStars programme, the youngest-ever recruit to the scheme.[21]

FIA Formula 3 European Championship

Russell competing at Spa during the 2015 FIA Formula 3 European Championship

Russell graduated to Formula Three in 2015, racing in the FIA European Formula 3 Championship with Carlin.[22] He took his first race victory in the opening round of the season at Silverstone, finishing ahead of fellow debutant Charles Leclerc and Antonio Giovinazzi in the second race of the weekend.[23] He took a further two podium places at Spa-Francorchamps and the Norisring to finish sixth in the championship.[24] He also finished as runner-up to Leclerc in the rookie championship standings.[25]

In September 2015, Russell took part in the Masters of Formula 3 non-championship event held at Zandvoort. After finishing fourth in the qualification race,[26] he went on to finish second behind teammate Antonio Giovinazzi in the main race.[27] Russell was also scheduled to compete in the Macau Grand Prix with Carlin, but was replaced by Japanese Euroformula Open Championship driver Yu Kanamaru shortly before the event.[28]

Russell switched to Hitech GP for the 2016 season, scored two victories, and finished third in the standings.

GP3 Series

Russell signed with ART Grand Prix for the 2017 GP3 Series season.[29] He had previously driven for the team at the post-season test at Yas Marina in November 2016.[30]

Russell made a solid start to the season at the Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona, where he finished the weekend with 4th and 5th position finishes. The next race at the Red Bull Ring saw him take his maiden pole position and victory in the GP3 Series.[31] Russell scored back to back pole positions at his 'home race' at Silverstone, before converting this into another victory in the first race of the weekend and taking 4th position in the second race, on his way to taking the championship lead.[32]

George Russell GP3 Series during Spa GP 2017
George Russell on 26 August 2017 at Spa-Francorchamps

A dominant performance at Spa-Francorchamps soon followed which saw Russell build his championship lead advantage, after taking a victory and a 2nd position in the two races, alongside Pole Position and Fastest Lap in both races.[33]

The next round at Monza saw only one GP3 Series event take place after adverse weather conditions resulting into the Saturday Race being cancelled.[34] Russell won a titanic tussle with his ART Grand Prix teammates Jack Aitken and Anthoine Hubert to seal his fourth victory of the season.[35]

Russell had taken four victories, three pole positions, and five further podiums to put him in a position to seal the championship at Jerez, with a complete round of the championship still to run at Yas Marina. Russell won the 2017 GP3 Series title after taking 4th position in race two, giving him an unassailable lead in the championship standings.[36]

FIA Formula 2 Championship

Russell on the podium alongside Lando Norris (left) and Antonio Fuoco (right) after winning the 2018 Spielberg Formula 2 round

In January 2018 Russell was confirmed as a driver for ART Grand Prix for the 2018 FIA Formula 2 Championship,[37] which would see the new Dallara F2 2018 make its debut in the expanding 12-race calendar.[38] He was also confirmed as the Mercedes' reserve driver, sharing duties with Pascal Wehrlein the following month.[39]

Russell qualified in 2nd position on debut at Bahrain, finishing 5th in the opening round of the championship.[40]

In Baku for the second round of the championship, Russell led the majority of the feature race before a late safety car caused drama at the restart, denying him a maiden victory in the series.[41] Coming through from the back in the sprint race, Russell set the fastest lap on his way to taking victory from 12th on the grid.[42]

Russell took his second victory of the season in Barcelona, after prevailing in a duel with Nyck de Vries, taking his maiden feature race win of the season.[43] He followed that up with 4th in the sprint race to move up to 2nd in the championship standings.[44]

In Monte-Carlo, Russell had an engine failure in free practice which severely limited his running. Russell was on the back foot, qualifying in 16th position, and endured two races outside of the points.

Russell hit back in France at Le Castellet, taking his maiden pole position in Formula 2.[45] He led a wet / dry challenging race from lights-to-flag and took his third victory of the season and the championship.[46]

He would later go on to win the title with a victory in the feature race at Abu Dhabi after a season-long fight with fellow Brit Lando Norris.

Formula One

In early 2017, Russell joined Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport as a part of their junior driver programme.[47] It was announced that Russell would take part in both days of the Budapest test on the 1–2 August, which followed the Formula One World Championship and support series races at the same circuit from the weekend before.[48] In November the same year it was announced that Russell would make his Formula One practice debut at the Brazilian Grand Prix driving in the first practice session for Force India. Subsequently, it was announced that he would also drive for them in the first practice session for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.[49]

Russell was announced as one of the Pirelli Tyre Test Drivers for Force India at the post-Spanish Grand Prix test in May 2018.[50] He completed 123 laps for the team at the test, his first in a Formula One car with 2018 specifications.[51]

Williams (2019–2021)

2019: Rookie season

Russell at the 2019 Austrian Grand Prix, he went on to finish 19th

On 13 October 2018, it was announced that Russell had signed a multi-year deal to drive for the Williams team,[52] partnering Robert Kubica for the 2019 season.[53] The Williams FW42 lacked pace and was the slowest car of the field;[54] in most races Kubica was Russell's only on-track competition. At the rain-affected German Grand Prix, Russell crossed the line in 13th place before being promoted to 11th after the Alfa Romeo drivers were penalised post-race for using driver aids.[55] He narrowly missed out on scoring his maiden point in Formula One, having been overtaken by Kubica in the closing laps.[56]

The first retirement of Russell's career came at the Singapore Grand Prix when Romain Grosjean made contact with him during an overtake attempt, sending Russell into a wall.[57] He then retired again at the Russian Grand Prix after suffering a wheel nut issue.[58] The Brazilian Grand Prix provided one of the few opportunities of Russell's debut season to race other cars, where a late safety car allowed him to finish in 12th place, just 1.5 seconds behind a points-scoring position.[59]

Russell ended the season in 20th place in the championship, the only driver not to score a point.[60]

2020: First F1 career points

Russell continued driving for Williams in 2020, partnered by former Formula 2 competitor Nicholas Latifi.[61] He retired from the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix from a loss of fuel pressure.[62] Russell started the Styrian Grand Prix in 11th place after a wet qualifying session, beating his previous best qualifying position.[63] Running wide into the gravel in the early laps effectively ended Russell's chances at points,[64] and he finished 16th with both Williams drivers struggling for race pace.[65]

George Russell at the 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix, a race in which he finished 11th

Russell crashed out of the Belgian Grand Prix after a stray wheel from Antonio Giovinazzi's car hit his Williams.[66] At the Tuscan Grand Prix, Russell started 18th but ran in the points positions for most of the race aided by a higher than normal attrition rate. He ran in ninth place before the second red flag period but experienced a poor restart, dropping back to 12th and last. Despite passing Romain Grosjean, he was ultimately unable to progress further and finished 11th.[67] At the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Russell crashed out from 10th place while following the safety car, an incident he described as the "biggest mistake of [his] career".[68]

Mercedes stand-in

Russell stood in for Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes for the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix, following a positive coronavirus test result for Hamilton.[69] Russell stated in the pre-event press conference he felt "no pressure",[70] following Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff's expectation that the car would finish in the top five.[71][72] Russell qualified for second position on the front row for the race start, narrowly missing out on pole to teammate Valtteri Bottas by 26 milliseconds.[73] Russell took early control from the race start and led most of the race, but with 20 laps remaining, Mercedes team mechanics fitted Bottas' front tyres on Russell's car, causing him to have to re-pit on the next lap to correct the error.[74] He then suffered a slow puncture ten laps before the finish and was forced to pit again.[75] Russell finished in ninth place and earned his first three World Championship points, two points for ninth and one for the fastest lap.[76] Russell was praised by the media and the Mercedes team for his Sakhir performance.[77][78]

Return to Williams

Russell performed media duties for Mercedes at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but returned to Williams in time for practice when Hamilton was declared fit to compete.[79] Following Friday practice, Russell said returning to Williams for this event was a "strange feeling", having competed in the faster Mercedes the week before.[80] For the event, Russell wore a special helmet as a tribute to Williams co-founder Frank Williams and former deputy team principal Claire Williams,[81] both of whom had left the team and Formula One earlier in the season.[82] Russell qualified 18th and finished the race 15th.[83][84]

2021: Maiden F1 podium

Russell was retained by Williams for the 2021 season alongside Nicholas Latifi.[85] At the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, he collided with Valtteri Bottas after driving on to a wet patch and losing control of his car during an overtaking attempt, causing both cars to retire and prompting a red flag.[86] Russell initially blamed the incident on Bottas, accusing him of "trying to kill [them] both",[87] but later retracted his claims and apologised to Bottas and his own Williams team.[88]

George Russell at the 2021 Austrian Grand Prix, he finished 11th in the race.

He ran in 15th place prior to the red flag at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, but failed to make the restart due to gearbox issues.[89] He finished 12th at the French Grand Prix, ahead of eight other drivers,[90] later remarking that this was the "best race [he had] ever had together with Williams".[91] He qualified 11th at the Styrian Grand Prix, missing out on the third qualifying session (Q3) by eight milliseconds. He was promoted to 10th place after Yuki Tsunoda received a grid penalty, his best grid position for Williams.[92] During the race, Russell gained two positions in the opening laps but later entered the pits multiple times as his team attempted to resolve a reliability issue. He eventually retired from the race.[93] Russell reached Q3 for the first time in a Williams car at the Austrian Grand Prix and started the race eighth, the team's highest grid position since 2017.[94][95] He finished the race 11th, having been passed by Fernando Alonso in the closing laps.[96] Russell reached Q3 again at the British Grand Prix, but was issued with a grid penalty for colliding with Carlos Sainz Jr. in the sprint qualifying session. He finished the race 12th. At the Hungarian Grand Prix, Russell came from 17th on the grid to finish a career-best eighth (after Sebastian Vettel's disqualification), earning his first points for Williams.

In the rain-affected Belgian Grand Prix qualifying session, Russell qualified in second place behind Max Verstappen. This marked the first front-row start for Williams since the 2017 Italian Grand Prix.[97] The race was delayed by wet weather and ultimately only two laps were completed, both under safety car conditions. This allowed Russell to maintain his grid position and claim his first Formula One podium finish.[98] At the 2021 Italian Grand Prix, Russell finished ninth, scoring an additional two points. At the Russian Grand Prix, Russell qualified in third in mixed conditions, before finishing the race in tenth.[99]

Mercedes (2022–)

Russell is due to join Mercedes in 2022, replacing Valtteri Bottas and joining fellow Briton Lewis Hamilton.[4]

Other activities

In March 2021, Russell was appointed as a director of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association, replacing previous incumbent Romain Grosjean,[100] who stepped down following his departure from Formula One to IndyCar.[101]

Racing record

Racing career summary

Season Series Team Races Wins Poles F/Laps Podiums Points Position
2014 BRDC Formula 4 Championship Lanan Racing 24 5 3 4 11 483 1st
Formula Renault 2.0 Alps Koiranen GP 12 0 0 0 1 123 4th
Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 2 0 0 0 0 0 NC†
Tech 1 Racing 2 1 1 1 1
2015 FIA Formula 3 European Championship Carlin 33 1 0 0 3 203 6th
Masters of Formula 3 1 0 0 0 1 N/A 2nd
2016 FIA Formula 3 European Championship HitechGP 30 2 3 3 10 264 3rd
Macau Grand Prix 1 0 1 0 0 N/A 7th
2017 GP3 Series ART Grand Prix 15 4 4 5 7 220 1st
2018 FIA Formula 2 Championship ART Grand Prix 24 7 5 6 11 287 1st
2019 Formula One ROKiT Williams Racing 21 0 0 0 0 0 20th
2020 Formula One Williams Racing 16 0 0 0 0 3 18th
Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team 1 0 0 1 0
2021 Formula One Williams Racing 20 0 0 0 1 16* 15th*

As Russell was a guest driver, he was ineligible for championship points.
* Season still in progress.

Complete FIA Formula 3 European Championship results

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year Entrant Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 DC Points
2015 Carlin Volkswagen SIL
1

8
SIL
2

1
SIL
3

5
HOC
1

11
HOC
2

9
HOC
3

18
PAU
1

8
PAU
2

6
PAU
3

8
MNZ
1

8
MNZ
2

6
MNZ
3

7
SPA
1

6
SPA
2

13
SPA
3

3
NOR
1

10
NOR
2

5
NOR
3

2
ZAN
1

6
ZAN
2

5
ZAN
3

6
RBR
1

5
RBR
2

7
RBR
3

9
ALG
1

10
ALG
2

5
ALG
3

4
NÜR
1

13
NÜR
2

8
NÜR
3

10
HOC
1

7
HOC
2

8
HOC
3

Ret
6th 203
2016 Hitech GP Mercedes LEC
1

3
LEC
2

11
LEC
3

18
HUN
1

Ret
HUN
2

4
HUN
3

Ret
PAU
1

4
PAU
2

1
PAU
3

3
RBR
1

5
RBR
2

2
RBR
3

Ret
NOR
1

3
NOR
2

9
NOR
3

Ret
ZAN
1

7
ZAN
2

9
ZAN
3

5
SPA
1

5
SPA
2

1
SPA
3

3
NÜR
1

3
NÜR
2

Ret
NÜR
3

7
IMO
1

4
IMO
2

3
IMO
3

2
HOC
1

7
HOC
2

6
HOC
3

Ret
3rd 264

Complete Macau Grand Prix results

Year Team Car Qualifying Quali Race Main race
2016 United Kingdom HitechGP Dallara F312 1st 5th 7th

Complete GP3 Series results

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year Entrant 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Pos Points
2017 ART Grand Prix CAT
FEA

4
CAT
SPR

5
RBR
FEA

1
RBR
SPR

6
SIL
FEA

1
SIL
SPR

4
HUN
FEA

DNS
HUN
SPR

11
SPA
FEA

1
SPA
SPR

2
MNZ
FEA

1
MNZ
SPR

C
JER
FEA

2
JER
SPR

4
YMC
FEA

2
YMC
SPR

4
1st 220

Complete FIA Formula 2 Championship results

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate points for the fastest lap of top ten finishers)

Year Entrant 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 DC Points
2018 ART Grand Prix BHR
FEA

5
BHR
SPR

19
BAK
FEA

12
BAK
SPR

1
CAT
FEA

1
CAT
SPR

4
MON
FEA

Ret
MON
SPR

Ret
LEC
FEA

1
LEC
SPR

17
RBR
FEA

1
RBR
SPR

2
SIL
FEA

2
SIL
SPR

2
HUN
FEA

Ret
HUN
SPR

8
SPA
FEA

3
SPA
SPR

7
MNZ
FEA

4
MNZ
SPR

1
SOC
FEA

4
SOC
SPR

1
YMC
FEA

1
YMC
SPR

4
1st 287

Complete Formula One results

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position; races in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 WDC Points
2017 Sahara Force India F1 Team Force India VJM10 Mercedes M08 EQ Power+ 1.6 V6 t AUS CHN BHR RUS ESP MON CAN AZE AUT GBR HUN BEL ITA SIN MAL JPN USA MEX BRA
TD
ABU
TD
2019 ROKiT Williams Racing Williams FW42 Mercedes M10 EQ Power+ 1.6 V6 t AUS
16
BHR
15
CHN
16
AZE
15
ESP
17
MON
15
CAN
16
FRA
19
AUT
18
GBR
14
GER
11
HUN
16
BEL
15
ITA
14
SIN
Ret
RUS
Ret
JPN
16
MEX
16
USA
17
BRA
12
ABU
17
20th 0
2020 Williams Racing Williams FW43 Mercedes M11 EQ Performance 1.6 V6 t AUT
Ret
STY
16
HUN
18
GBR
12
70A
18
ESP
17
BEL
Ret
ITA
14
TUS
11
RUS
18
EIF
Ret
POR
14
EMI
Ret
TUR
16
BHR
12
ABU
15
18th 3
Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes AMG F1 W11 EQ Performance SKH
9
2021 Williams Racing Williams FW43B Mercedes M12 E Performance
1.6 V6 t
BHR
14
EMI
Ret
POR
16
ESP
14
MON
14
AZE
17†
FRA
12
STY
Ret
AUT
11
GBR
12
HUN
8
BEL
2
NED
17†
ITA
9
RUS
10
TUR
15
USA
14
MXC
16
SAP
13
QAT
17
SAU
ABU
15th* 16*

Half points awarded as less than 75% of race distance was completed.
* Season still in progress.

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External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by BRDC Formula 4 Championship
Champion

2014
Succeeded by
Preceded by GP3 Series
Champion

2017
Succeeded by
Preceded by FIA Formula 2 Championship
Champion

2018
Succeeded by
Awards
Preceded by McLaren Autosport BRDC Award
2014
Succeeded by