Lewis Hamilton has been replaced by George Russell for this weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix. Following Hamilton’s positive test for coronavirus, Russell will drive for Mercedes in Bahrain. Jack Aitken will make his F1 debut by taking Russell’s place at Williams for this week’s race.
Russell, 22, is yet to earn a point in his 36 races for Williams.
However, it is widely expected he will race for Mercedes in the future and has been given an opportunity this week in Hamilton’s absence.
Following the news, Russell tweeted his excitement at replacing the seven-time World Champion.
“Unbelievably grateful to @WilliamsRacing and @MercedesAMGF1 for this opportunity.
“Thank you all.”
Russell insisted this week is a big opportunity for him to learn and return to Williams a better driver.
He said: “I see this as a great chance to learn from the best outfit on the grid right now and to come back as an improved driver, with even more energy and experience to help push Williams further up the grid.
“A big thank you also to Mercedes for putting their faith in me.
“Obviously, nobody can replace Lewis, but I’ll give my all for the team in his absence from the moment I step in the car.
“Most importantly, I wish him a speedy recovery. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity and can’t wait to get out on track this week.”
Russell’s absence at Williams will give a debut to 25-year-old Aitken.
And the British-Korean driver was over the moon to be given his chance.
Aitken wrote on Twitter: “I can’t believe this, but… I will make my F1 debut with @WilliamsRacing this weekend. Huge thank you to them, and obviously my best wishes to Lewis, and George making the step into the Merc. #YOTUS baby.”
Hamilton released a statement on Tuesday that he had mild coronavirus symptoms following a positive coronavirus test on Monday.
“Hi guys. I’m devastated that I won’t be racing this weekend,” Hamilton posted on his social media channels.
“Since we started the season in June, my team and I have been taking all the precautions we possibly can and following the regulations everywhere we’ve been in order to stay safe.
“Unfortunately, even though I returned three negative results in this past week, I woke up yesterday morning with mild symptoms and requested another test which came back.
“I’ve immediately gone into self-isolation for ten days. I’m gutted not to be able to race this weekend but my priority is to follow the protocols and advice to protect others.
“I’m really lucky that I feel okay with only mild symptoms and will do my best to stay fit and healthy.
“Please look after yourselves out there, you can never be too careful.
“These are worrying times for everyone and we need to make sure we are looking after ourselves and each other. Stay positive.”