Williams new boy George Russell arrives at the team having spent a year as AMG Mercedes F1 reserve driver in 2018, where he was able to shadow current Mercedes drivers five times Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton and team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
For a rookie to Formula 1, to be integrated with the World Champions – to get a sense of how everything in a successful team works, and to see how F1’s current world champion driver operates will undoubtedly give him a head-start in his development as a fully fledged Formula 1 driver, ahead of his debut season in the Williams FW42 in 2019.
Mercedes, to whom Russell remains contracted, no-doubt hope, that equipped with the knowledge he’s gained from his time in the Mercedes garage, the young Briton will be fully prepared to make the most of the opportunity he’s been given with Williams for 2019, and should he arrive back at Mercedes in future, then he’ll do so as a more complete driver.
And Williams CTO Paddy Lowe feels that a key part of that will be the time Russell spent with Lewis Hamilton – watching his preparation, how he operates and how he integrates with the team.
“George is intelligent enough and humble enough to take advantage of and appreciate that privilege to work alongside someone who is undoubtedly well ahead of him at the moment.” said Lowe.
“For him to have seen exactly how Lewis works, what are the things he spends his time on, what is his approach, what is his attitude, will prove to be extremely valuable in the future.”
George Russell added of his time working with Hamilton:
“Every driver has to find their own way of driving, but the things I’ve learned is how he interacts with the team, the feedback and everything and that’s what I could learn.”
While its undoubtedly something that will benefit Russell and Mercedes, I’m hoping that Williams too can profit from Russell’s Mercedes experience.
Aside from raw speed and race-craft that will help Williams secure points and feedback that will help them get more from their FW42, if Russell can bring anything strategic or logistical from Mercedes or Hamilton that will help Williams get more from their 2019 season then I’m all for it.