Mercedes F1 team signs George Russell to its junior programme

Mercedes has added 2014 McLaren Autosport BRDC Award winner George Russell to its junior programme, alongside Formula 1 drivers Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon

Mercedes F1 team signs George Russell to its junior programme

Russell finished third in the European F3 championship, with two wins, three pole positions and 10 podiums, last year.

The 18-year-old Briton will dovetail his Mercedes duties with a campaign in GP3 with the title-winning ART Grand Prix outfit this season, as predicted by Autosport.

GP3 is a path Ocon and new Mercedes recruit Valtteri Bottas followed, with both drivers winning the title en route to F1.

"George has shown impressive form in the junior categories and we've been keeping a close eye on him for a while now," said Mercedes boss Toto Wolff.

"It's still early days in his career but we see great potential in him.

"George's next challenge in GP3 will provide a good test of his credentials for the future.

"We have already seen with Esteban how effective this series can be as a training ground and, of course, this is the championship which propelled Valtteri into Formula 1, so we will follow George's progress with great interest."

Russell will spend time in the Mercedes simulator as part of his new role.

"I'm proud to have been given this kind of recognition for all the hard work that's gone into my career over the years so far," he said.

"I've started doing some work with the team in the simulator and it's already become clear to me that I'm working with people who are the best in the business, who I know will help me develop as a driver and as a person.

"Of course, my priority is to get the job done over the coming season in GP3 and I'm fully focused on that.

"But this opportunity is a huge motivation and I'm looking forward to the challenge.

"It should be an exciting year ahead."

With Wehrlein and Ocon holding race seats at Sauber and Force India respectively, Russell provides Mercedes with an option to drive the car at the young driver tests.

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