Formula One: George Russell signs with Williams to become third Briton on grid for 2019 season

Briton George Russell, 20, will race for British constructors Williams in Formula One next year, Williams announced on October 12, 2018. The F2 championship leader will be the third Briton on the grid alongside Lewis Hamilton and fellow rookie Lando Norris. PHOTO: TWITTER

LONDON (REUTERS) - George Russell will join Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris in a trio of British Formula One drivers next season after former champions Williams announced on Friday (Oct 12) that they had signed the youngster on a multi-year deal.

The 20-year-old, who has a long-term contract with Williams' engine providers Mercedes, looks set to win the Formula Two championship as he is sitting on a 37-point lead with two races left.

"I feel 100 per cent ready," said Russell, who will debut in Australia in March. "I feel really motivated for the task ahead. Formula One has been my lifelong ambition and dream, so to finally get this opportunity... I'm definitely not going to take this for granted."

Hamilton, who can clinch his fifth world championship in Texas next week, is at Mercedes while Norris, 18, will be making his race debut with McLaren in 2019 after competing against Russell in Formula Two.

Williams have had a slow and unwieldy car this year and are last in one of the worst seasons in the history of a proud British team with nine constructors' and seven drivers' championships.

The 1.85m Russell follows in the footsteps of 2009 world champion and compatriot Jenson Button, who was handed his debut by team founder Frank Williams as a 20-year-old in 2000 and won the title with Brawn GP.

Britons Damon Hill, in 1996, and Nigel Mansell, in 1992, both won their championships with Williams, although the team have not won a race since 2012.

"We have always tried to promote and develop young talent at Williams, and George fits that ethos perfectly," said deputy principal Claire Williams.

"He is already highly regarded in the paddock and a driver whose career we have been watching for a while. In the time we have spent with him so far, we believe that he will be a great fit for our team."

Williams gave no details about who their other driver would be, but 19-year-old Canadian Lance Stroll looks certain to move to Force India - a team now controlled by his billionaire father Lawrence.

The future of Russian Sergey Sirotkin, who made his debut with Williams this year, remains uncertain with financial considerations possibly coming into play.

Mercedes have yet to secure a seat for young Frenchman Esteban Ocon, who also has a long-term contract with the reigning champions but is set to lose his Force India place to Stroll.

Poland's Robert Kubica, a former race-winner, has served as reserve this season and is keen to make a return to F1 after suffering serious hand injuries in a rally crash in 2011.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.