George Russell will step up from Williams to replace world champion Lewis Hamilton, who tested positive for Covid-19, at Formula One’s Sakhir Grand Prix in Bahrain, Mercedes announced Wednesday.
Williams reserve Jack Aitken will replace Russell at Williams this weekend, joining regular driver Nicholas Latifi.
“Firstly, I want to say a huge thank you to everybody at Williams for giving me this opportunity,” said Russell.
“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.”
Russell becomes just the third Briton to represent Mercedes in Formula One after Stirling Moss and Lewis Hamilton.
“A big thank you also to Mercedes for putting their faith in me,” added Russell.
“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.”
Russell 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 now gets a chance to drive the Formula One world championship-winning car alongside Valtteri Bottas for the penultimate race of the season.
Mercedes said they would announce after the race weekend their driver plans for the season finale at Abu Dhabi a week later.
Hamilton, who is in isolation after suffering mild symptoms and testing positive for Covid-19 on Monday, faces a tight battle to be able to compete there because of strict Covid-19 rules in Abu Dhabi meaning all personnel must travel from Bahrain on December 7.
The 35-year-old Hamilton sealed his seventh world title in Turkey two races ago to equal the all-time record of Michael Schumacher.