British rider George Russell was forced into the final phase of the race at the Sakhir Grand Prix this weekend, replacing World Champion Lewis Hamilton.
The 22-year-old from King’s Lynn in Norfolk has not yet won a single point from his 36 Grand Prix, but remarkably will be among the favorites to win after swapping his uncompetitive Williams for Hamilton’s Mercedes.
Russell, in his second season in Formula 1, is a member of the Mercedes Young Talent Program.
When it became clear that Hamilton could not compete after a positive coronavirus test, the world champion contacted Williams to make a deal.
Like Hamilton and many other F1 hopefuls, Russell began his motorsport career in karting in 2006.
With the help of his father Steve, who acted as his mechanic, Russell won the MSA British Cadet Championship and the British Open in 2009.
His successes in Formula 4 and Formula 3 and his claim to the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award prompted Mercedes to recruit him for their 2017 Junior Program.
That year in Baku, Russell met three-time world champion Niki Lauda, who was a non-executive chairman of Mercedes.
When Lauda died in 2019, Russell on Instagram remembered how the Austrian invited him to a concert that evening, where they spent the night dancing to Black Eyed Peas and Nicole Scherzinger.
Russell assumed the role of reserve driver for Mercedes in 2018 and made his F1 debut with Williams the following year.
His best result so far is 11th place in 2019 in Germany and this year in Tuscany, while last weekend in Bahrain he finished 12th.
Russell apologized to Williams after throwing away a potential point – and a first point of the season for the team – when he crashed at Imola last month when he was behind the safety car in tenth place.
On Sunday he will be only the third British driver to drive for Mercedes after Sir Stirling Moss and seven-time champion Hamilton.