George Russell has been confirmed as Lewis Hamilton’s new team-mate at Mercedes.
The much-anticipated announcement comes after Valtteri Bottas sealed a move to Alfa Romeo for 2022.
Englishman Russell, 23, earns the move to the Silver Arrows after three impressive campaigns with Williams.
Russell and Hamilton, 37, next year, will form a tantalising all-British line-up at Formula One’s all-conquering team.
Commenting on his blockbuster transfer, Russell, who has agreed a long-term deal with Mercedes, said: “It’s a special day for me personally and professionally.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t absolutely buzzing. It’s a huge opportunity and one I want to grab with both hands.
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) September 7, 2021
“But I’m under no illusions as to the scale of the challenge; it’s going to be a steep learning curve.
“I want to do my new team-mates proud. Of course, one of those new team-mates is in my opinion the greatest driver of all time.
“I’ve looked up to Lewis since I was in go-karts and the opportunity to learn from someone who has become a role model both on and off track can only benefit me as a driver, a professional, and a human being.”
In a message posted on Instagram, seven-time world champion Hamilton said: “I want to take a moment to welcome George Russell to the team.
It’s official. Next year, I’ll be a Mercedes F1 driver. This is a special day for me and I want to say a huge thank you to @WilliamsRacing, @MercedesAMGF1 and everyone who has supported me in getting to where I am today. I couldn’t have done it without every single one of you. 💙 pic.twitter.com/MmGA1vr9mR
— George Russell (@GeorgeRussell63) September 7, 2021
“I remember meeting him when he was young, dreaming of one day being a Formula One driver. I’d only just reached my own dream of becoming an F1 driver, so I know what this day means and how it will feel for him.
“He is a great example to all the kids out there that dreams do come true when you chase them wholeheartedly.
“Through hard work he has rightly earned his spot on our team. I look forward to seeing him grow as a driver with this great team and working with him to raise Mercedes higher. See you next year.”
Mercedes junior driver Russell’s transfer to take up the hottest seat in F1 comes after three seasons with Williams, and a hugely impressive stand-in display for a Covid-hit Hamilton in Bahrain last December.
I want to take a moment to welcome @GeorgeRussell63 to the team. Through hard work he has rightly earned his spot. I look forward to seeing him grow as a driver with this great team and working with him to raise @MercedesAMGF1 higher. See you next year🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/CRsgrilmUd
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) September 7, 2021
Russell, from King’s Lynn, also produced a memorable qualifying lap to put his uncompetitive Williams on the front row of the grid for last month’s Belgian Grand Prix, duly taking second following the two-lap race run behind the safety car.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said: “We are very happy to confirm that George will have the opportunity to take the next step in his career.
“He has been a winner in every racing category – and the past three seasons with Williams have given us a taste of what the future could hold for him in F1.
“Now, it is our challenge together to help him continue learning within our environment and alongside Lewis, the greatest F1 driver of all time.
“I am confident that as their relationship grows, they will form a strong team and deliver for Mercedes on and off the track in the years ahead. It’s a weight off our shoulders to have our plans for 2022 clear and announced.”
Wolff vowed never to place two alpha drivers together following Hamilton’s fractious relationship with Nico Rosberg.
But Bottas’ decline and Russell’s emergence as a world champion in waiting, has forced their hand.
Speaking ahead of his home event in Zandvoort, Dutchman Max Verstappen suggested Russell will “make life very difficult” for Hamilton.
But, in response, the seven-time world champion said: “I don’t feel I have anything to prove.
“I have raced against some incredible drivers as team-mates, including Fernando Alonso in my rookie year.
“There will be things we learn from one another and it is important respect is always there. Communication is at the core of that. George being British will help.”
A source told the Daily Mail: "Toto has made up his mind to bring in George. Lewis has been told and he’s not happy.
"He wanted Valtteri as a team-mate because he is compliant and not quite quick enough to trouble him, but that’s not what is happening.
"You could say, as far as Lewis is concerned, it’s gone down like a lead balloon."