George Russell and Lando Norris, graduates of BRDC F4 and BRDC British F3, will make their F1 race debuts this weekend at the Albert Park Circuit in Melbourne, Australia.
Russell, the 2014 BRDC F4 Champion, was a key development driver for the current BRDC British F3 Tatuus-Cosworth car, and has since gone on to win the GP3 and F2 crowns in 2017 and 2018. He makes his debut with the RoKIT Williams Racing team, and is the first British driver to secure a full-time drive at the legendary team since Jenson Button in 2000.
He commented: “I am extremely excited for Melbourne. It will be my first race in Formula One and it is a dream come true. It will be a very proud and extremely surreal moment for me standing on the starting grid with everybody preparing for the race, and I am really looking forward to the whole experience.
“I am going to make sure that I enjoy it, won’t take it for granted and make the most of it. I have never been to Australia before, so I am going out there earlier to get used to the weather, the time difference and see the city a little bit before starting work properly on the Tuesday before the race. All in all I am really looking forward to the whole experience.”
Norris meanwhile has been fast-tracked to success since winning four races in the BRDC British F3 Championship in 2016. Since then, he’s won the FIA Formula 3 European Championship and was the runner-up to Russell in last year’s F2 title race. Signed up to the McLaren junior programme in 2017, he tested with the team regularly since then and is also gearing up for his F1 race debut this weekend.
He said: “This weekend marks the start of an important new chapter in my career. I'm excited to be making my Formula 1 debut and ready for the challenges that lie ahead. There are plenty of new procedures for me to get used to as I step up from F2, so the two weeks at pre-season testing were valuable as they allowed me to fully prepare for this weekend.
“This will be my first-time visiting Australia, so it'll be cool to see a new country. I've spent a lot of time preparing for the race in the simulator back at the factory; there are a few new circuits for me to learn this year.
“Since leaving Barcelona, I've spent a lot of time working with engineers and making my final preparations before taking to the track in Melbourne. I feel ready and I'm looking forward to working with Carlos and the team as we take on the 2019 season together.”
Practice got underway earlier today, and Russell posted the 19th fastest time in the second session, ahead of teammate Robert Kubica, while Norris was 18th in both sessions. Qualifying gets underway on Saturday at 06.00 UK time, ahead of the first race of the year on Sunday at 05.10 UK time.
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