George Russell has got what it takes to deal with the pressure of being Formula One’s next big thing, his new boss Claire Williams has said.
Russell (20), from Wisbech, was confirmed as a driver for Williams earlier this month, joining Lewis Hamilton and McLaren rookie Lando Norris as the third Briton on the grid in 2019.
The young Englishman boasts an impressive record in motor racing’s junior categories, and is set to enhance his blossoming CV by clinching the Formula Two championship, F1’s feeder series, in Abu Dhabi next month.
All eyes will be on Russell when he becomes the first British driver to race for Williams since Jenson Button, nearly two decades ago, at the season opener in Melbourne, Australia.
“The pressure is going to be on George,” said deputy team principal Williams. “But he is mature, and he will be able to handle that pressure.
“He is an individual who knows what he wants, and he works hard to go after it. That is what I love about him, his sheer determination.
“As an overall package, George has got it, and he is going to be a really bright talent of the future in Formula One.”
A Mercedes junior driver, Russell initiated his move to the British constructor by making contact with Williams at the German Grand Prix in July.
A little over two months later, Russell had signed on the dotted line, posing with Sir Frank Williams, and Claire, at the team’s Oxfordshire HQ.
Sir Frank (76) remains team principal, but is rarely seen in the paddock these days, attending only the British Grand Prix this season.
“Frank loves George,” Claire added. “George is very British and Frank really enjoys that.
“Just the fact that he is called George, too. When I say his name, it sounds like I have got my headmistress voice on. If he gets into trouble, it is not going to be much fun listening to me.”
Russell, 6ft 2in tall but weighing just 68 kilograms, will be one of the tallest drivers in the sport.
“Frank’s main concern is always ‘how tall are you? And how much do you weigh?’ So, poor George had quite a lot of that from him,” Claire added.
“He is tall, and there is nothing to him. The weight issue will be a worry, but he has had his seat fitted, and we know he gets into the chassis.
“Frank loves bringing in any new talent to Formula One, and particularly one with the potential George has. He can really get behind that, and buy into it.”
Russell, reserve driver for Mercedes, will be in Mexico City this coming weekend to watch at close quarters Hamilton’s probable championship coronation.
Hamilton (33) needs to finish only seventh on Sunday to secure his fifth world title.