Russell, who won last season’s GP3 championship, currently leads the Formula Two standings by 37 points ahead of the final two races in Abu Dhabi and is also the current Mercedes reserve driver behind Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.
The 20-year-old has agreed a “multi-year” deal with Williams and the announcement sees him named as their first driver for 2019, with the British driver set to replace Lance Stroll, who is widely expected to join Racing Point Force India after his father’s successful takeover bid earlier this year.
“I’ve dreamed of this moment for as long as I can remember,” Russell posted on twitter. “And now I can finally say it – as of 2019, I’ll officially be an @F1 driver for @WilliamsRacing!
“To everyone who made this possible – thank you, it means the world to me! I can’t wait to get started!!”
Russell is managed by Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, and the relationship between the reigning world champions and Williams in terms of their power unit supply helped to facilitate the deal that will see three British drivers back on the grid for the first time permanently since 2016 – although last year both Jenson Button and Paul Di Resta made one-off appearances to join Hamilton and Jolyon Palmer.
Russell added in a statement released by Williams: “It is a huge honour to join a team of Williams’ prestige and heritage. Formula One has been a life-long dream. From watching the races when I was a child, it feels surreal that I will now be lining up on the grid, alongside drivers whom I have admired for years.
“I would like to thank Claire [Williams, deputy team principal] and everyone at Williams for their faith in making this decision, as well as Toto [Wolff] and the team at Mercedes for their fantastic support throughout GP3 and Formula 2. I am incredibly excited to start working with everyone at Grove and to take my first steps as a Formula One race driver.
“I cannot wait for Melbourne next year and to join Williams at the start of what we all believe will be the start of an exciting new journey.”
Russell has a rich CV behind him despite his tender age. The Norfolk-born youngster won the BRDC Formula 4 championship at the age of 16 years old, and after two years in the Formula 3 European Championship, who graduated to the F1 support series GP3 for 2017 where he won the title with ART. His success saw him promoted to F2 this year with ART, and after an early-season battle with Norris, Russell has pulled clear at the top of the standings, leading Alexander Albon by 37 points with just 48 available at the season-ending round in Abu Dhabi.
His impressive form throughout the early years of his career caught the eye of Claire Williams, who believes that he will be the latest in a long line of young talent given their first steps in F1 with the British team – who brought through the likes of Damon Hill, David Coulthard and Nico Rosberg.
“I am delighted to announce that George Russell will be joining Williams from the 2019 season,” said Williams. “We have always tried to promote and develop young talent at Williams, and George fits that ethos perfectly.
“He is already highly regarded in the paddock and a driver whose career we have been watching for a while. In the time we have spent with him so far, we believe that he will be a great fit for our team; his commitment, passion and dedication is exactly what we need to drive the positive momentum building at Grove as we focus on the future. We are extremely excited to welcome George and work with him moving forward.”
Russell’s teammate is yet to be confirmed but it is widely expected that Russian Sergey Sirotkin will be retained for a second year in F1.