George Russell, European Formula Three, 2016

Teenager Russell joins Mercedes’ junior squad

2017 F1 season

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Mercedes has appointed British GP3 racer George Russell to its Junior Driver Programme.

Russell, who finished third in European Formula Three behind Lance Stroll and Maximilian Gunther last year, will drive for ART in GP3 this season.

George Russell Carlin European F3 Silverstone 2015
Russell won his second start in Formula Three
Mercedes executive director Toto Wolff said the 18-year-old had “shown impressive form in the junior categories and we’ve been keeping a close eye on him for a while now”. Russell won his second race start in F3, took the BRDC F4 series title in 2014 and was the CIK-FIA European KF3 karting champion in 2012. He also scooped the McLaren Autosport BRDC young driver of the year award in 2014 which earned him a test in a McLaren F1 car.

Russell said joining the world champions was an “incredible opportunity” and has already begun working with them.

“I’ve started doing some work with the team in the simulator and it’s already become clear to me that I’m working with people who are the best in the business, who I know will help me develop as a driver and as a person,” he said.

Russell is the third member of Mercedes’ junior squad, joining Force India driver Esteban Ocon and Sauber’s Pascal Wehrlein.

“George’s next challenge in GP3 will provide a good test of his credentials for the future,” Wolff added.

“We have already seen with Esteban how effective this series can be as a training ground and, of course, this is the championship which propelled Valtteri [Bottas] into Formula One, so we will follow George’s progress with great interest.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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20 comments on “Teenager Russell joins Mercedes’ junior squad”

  1. Isn’t Felix Rosenqvist part of the Mercedes junior squad too?

    1. Not according to Mercedes:

      Russell becomes the third member of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport Junior Programme, joining incumbents Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon

      1. Really? They only had Ocon and Wehrlein before Russell? No one in lower formula’s?

        1. @hugh11 To the best of my recollection. Remember Ocon wasn’t in F1 at the start of last year.

        2. I believe so. Rosenqvist was on as a Mercedes DTM reserve driver/Mercedes sportscar factory driver at the beginning of last year, not a Formula 1 junior driver.

          1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
            19th January 2017, 15:01

            I’m surprised that Sauber haven’t shown any interest in Rosenquist

          2. @fullcoursecaution Manor have, but that all seems to be a little bit unreliable at the moment. Felix doesn’t bring a whole lot sponsorship. His fellow countryman Marcus Ericsson clearly brings more.

      2. @keithcollantine bah, what does Mercedes know about the Mercedes junior programme?

        1. Im more surprised that no teams has shown interrest in Felix. He did really well in all things hes ben trying

  2. Would prefer to see Lando Norris get picked up by one of the big teams. So far he has impressed and I hope he doesn’t get lost along the way like Robin Frijns.

    1. @blackmamba If Frijns had the kind of money behind him Norris does there’s no way he wouldn’t have made it to F1. Sauber would definitely have had him after they tested him.

      1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
        19th January 2017, 15:10

        Does Norris have big backing @keithcollantine?

        I was under the impression that he was relying on that BDRC award and McLaren young driver status to advance his career, believing he came from a fairly modest (by F1 standards) upbringing, much like LH.

        Very impressed by the kid either way. Wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him dominate F3 with Carlin

  3. He is a middling talent, good enough to justify advancing up the single seater ladder, but not good enough to ever realistically contend for an F1 drive on merit. It just goes to show how quickly things change in motorsport: six months ago his second season in F3 was faltering and his ultimate goal was to salvage a DTM drive, since then he has rescued an albeit somewhat anonymous third in the standings in F3, taken pole at Macau, landed a drive for ART’s GP3 super-squad and now has Mercedes backing.

    Whether that warrants the opportunities he has received versus the neglected talents of Alexander Albon, Luca Ghiotto and Jack Aitken is yours to judge.

    1. I wouldn’t say Jack Aitken is neglected. I mean, he is part of the Renault Sport Academy but Albion, former member of the RSA and also the Red Bull Junior Geam and Ghiotto, who was rumoured to be on the shortlist to become a RBJT member, are completely overlooked and hence underrated if you ask me

      1. Albon* and Team*

  4. Mercedes needs young drivers….

    Imagine LH decides to retire now? What then?

    Pascal and Esteban were clearly not good enough, so they have to keep looking. Compared to RBR junior effort, Mercedes seems to be bearly trying.

    I’ll be darned if there are no better talents in single seaters than #3 in F3…

    1. They have a car that could tempt any driver, negotiations would just be a bit more difficult. Let the young guys get some miles under their belts and then promote.

  5. He resembles Chloë Sevigny, anyway strange choice considering the high standards of Mercedes and a relatively unimpressive 2nd season in f3, I reckon. Commercially it makes full sense, he’s young and English, he’s the only one of all the drivers that shone last season.

  6. I knew George when I was in kart racing, competing against his brother. It’s great to see him come so far.

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