Williams deputy Formula 1 chief Claire Williams feels George Russell can be a “galvanising force” for the British team in 2019 as it looks to fight back up the competitive order.

Williams confirmed last week that Formula 2 championship leader and Mercedes-backed junior Russell, 20, had signed to one of its F1 race seats for 2019, becoming the third British driver on the grid for next year.

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Russell is set to take the place of Lance Stroll, who is due to move to Force India, while the second seat at Williams remains up for grabs, with the incumbent Sergey Sirotkin the favourite to continue his stint with the team.

Russell arrives at Williams without any major financial backing, marking a move away from the policy used by the team through 2018, with both Stroll and Sirotkin bringing a number of sponsors and backers with them.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Williams explained how the arrival of Russell acts a big statement as the team looks to prioritise talent and ability over the extra financial interests.

“This doesn't enhance our racing budget, this was a decision purely based on the talent we know George has. This is what this team needs, and this is a message of our intent,” Williams said.

“We need someone who we can build this team around. We need a galvanising force, and George is going to be that for us.

"We wanted someone who would be with us for a number of years and who the team could get behind. That was a big factor in our decision-making.”

Williams also spoke of her desire to help boost British talent, with Russell becoming the first homegrown driver to join the team since Jenson Button made his debut in 2000.

"It's really exciting for us to bring in another new talent into Williams. We're a team renowned for that and this is our first British driver since Jenson,” Williams said.

“His racing pedigree speaks for itself. It's exciting for F1 to have another young talent on board, and George is tipped to be a superstar of our sport in years to come.”

Williams is on course to finish at the bottom of the F1 constructors' championship this year, having picked up just eight points through the opening 17 races in one of its worst seasons in the sport.



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