Russell claimed his first grand prix victory on Sunday at Interlagos, controlling proceedings from the front of the field after also winning Saturday’s sprint race.
He drove home a 1-2 finish for Mercedes ahead of Lewis Hamilton and gave the team its first win of the season, breaking a win drought dating back to the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix last December.
The win only enhanced Russell’s status as a future F1 star, having moved up to a Mercedes seat for 2022 after spending three years with Williams.
Russell has been part of the Mercedes junior program since 2017 and was supported in his GP3 and Formula 2 title roles before graduating to F1 in 2019.
Reflecting on Russell’s rise after his Brazilian Grand Prix victory, Wolff spoke of his first meeting with the British driver when he pitched to join the team’s academy.
“I thought about that at the end of the race, when he walked in as a 16-year-old with his suit and tie and his PowerPoint presentation,” Wolff said. “He is the first from our new junior program to have won a race.
“Obviously, Lewis has been there forever, and he’s the most successful of those to have graduated from our junior academy. But six years later, [Russell is] winner of a grand prix race. We have always set ourselves difficult goals. You have to win GP3, you have to win F2, and he did that in his rookie seasons.
“And then, I guess at Williams, it was the best education he could have had, maybe a year too long.
“But in any case, today the most relevant [thing] It’s that he’s a grand prize winner and a deserving grand prize winner.”
George Russell, Williams
Photo By: Jerry Andre/Motorsport Images
Russell was promoted to a Mercedes seat for 2022 at the expense of Valtteri Bottas, who had spent five years with the team competing alongside Hamilton, forging a successful partnership that earned him five constructors’ titles.
Russell signed a three-year contract by joining Williams for the 2019 season, and helped turn the team from distant stragglers to contentious for points again, as well as scoring their first podium finish in four years at the Belgian Grand Prix. shortened by rain last year. .
Bottas was always given rolling one-year contracts during his time at Mercedes, and secured a role at Alfa Romeo for 2022 following confirmation of his departure.