George Russell joins Williams F1 on multi-year deal

Mercedes-backed Formula 2 title leader George Russell is to graduate to Formula 1 in 2019 with Williams, the team confirmed on Friday, having signed a multi-year agreement.

Russell, 20, has been affiliated with Mercedes since the start of 2017, and is poised to add the Formula 2 title to the GP3 crown he won last year.

Russell is therefore set to become the third Briton on the 2019 grid, joining fellow rookie Lando Norris (McLaren) and reigning World Champion Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes).

"It is a huge honour to join a team of Williams’ prestige and heritage," he said.

"Formula 1 has been a life-long dream. From watching the races when I was a child, it feels surreal that I will now be lining up on the grid, alongside drivers whom I have admired for years.

"I would like to thank Claire [Williams] and everyone at Williams for their faith in making this decision, as well as Toto [Wolff] and the team at Mercedes for their fantastic support throughout GP3 and Formula 2.

"I am incredibly excited to start working with everyone at Grove and to take my first steps as a Formula 1 race driver.

"I cannot wait for Melbourne next year and to join Williams at the start of what we all believe will be the start of an exciting new journey."

Russell has taken six wins in Formula 2 this season and stands on the brink of the title, having opened a 37-point advantage over Alexander Albon.

Russell has previously carried out Formula 1 test runs for both Mercedes and Force India.

Williams has yet to confirm the identity of Russell's 2019 team-mate, though current racer Sergey Sirotkin and Renault tester Artem Markelov are understood to be in contention for the seat.

Incumbent Lance Stroll is poised to move across to Force India following the team's buyout by his father, Lawrence.