George Russell's dream to partner Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes is close to becoming a reality after Valtteri Bottas confirmed his move to Alfa Romeo for the 2022 season. The Williams driver is set to form an all-British partnership with the seven-time world champion next season and beyond.
The 23-year-old is expected to put up a sterner fight than Bottas did during his five seasons as Hamilton's teammate. Russell proved he has the speed when he stepped in for Hamilton at the Sakhir Grand Prix in 2020, and was on course for the win before a team error and a puncture robbed him of it.
Despite his strong showing for Williams in the last few races, the rising star is aware that going up against Hamilton will be no easy task. He said that it will be "naive" to expect to straight away challenge the multiple world champion, who has dominated the sport for the best part of the decade.
"I don't think any driver would be naive to think they could go up against a seven-time world champion and have it easy," Russell said, as quoted on Sky Sports. "Because a guy like Lewis is who he is because of his speed and determination."
"But that's every driver's dream - and I've said that for the last three years that it would be my dream to be team-mates with Lewis, because I want to learn from the best and I want to go up against the best. Let's see what next year brings."
Russell is expected to be officially confirmed as a Mercedes driver on Tuesday. Russell's move to the Silver Arrows team could see a number of announcements made in the coming weeks, with the Williams seat now becoming vacant.
Nicolas Latifi is expected to retain the seat in the British team for the 2022, season with his partner yet to be decided. It is expected to be between Red Bull-backed Alex Albon and Mercedes-backed Nick DeVries.
There are also seats available at Alfa Romeo with Antonio Giovinazzi's future still unclear, while Alpha Tauri are yet to confirm their driver lineup for the 2022 season. Aston Martin are expected to retain Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll, while Haas Racing could continue with Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher.