Russell reacts to Mercedes chief leaving just months before new season

George Russell joins Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes

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George Russell has paid an emotional tribute to James Vowles after he left his role as Mercedes’ motorsport strategy director to become the new team principal at Williams.

Vowles, who has worked with Mercedes for 20 years, replaces Jost Capito at Williams, who were Russell’s team for three seasons before leaving in 2021. And the 24-year-old was quick to congratulate Vowles on his new appointment on social media, writing: “James, it’s George.

“Congratulations on your new role, thoroughly deserved. Thank you for everything you’ve done for Mercedes and the support you’ve given me along the journey. See you in Bahrain!”

Russell’s Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton also paid tribute to Vowles, saying he “couldn’t be happier for him” and tipping him to “push Williams forward”. In a post on his Instagram story, Hamilton wrote: “I am so proud and grateful to have worked with James for the past 10 years.

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“Together we have won over 80 races and 15 titles. This is such a great move and I couldn’t be happier for him. We all need to change in order to progress and I’m confident that he’ll push Williams forward to being more competitive.

“There is nobody more deserving of this role. Thanks for everything James. Wishing you the best brother.”

Vowles’ move provides a further link between Williams and Mercedes, who have supplied Williams with their engines for the past eight seasons. However, Vowles insists Williams will not become a “mini-Mercedes”.

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“I wouldn’t consider it a mini-Mercedes,” he said. “Williams is an incredibly independent team in its own right, which has formed its own history, its own heritage. Williams is an entirely independent organisation, and furthermore, it’s one that my success is subject and dependent on me doing a good job there, and that has to be independent of Mercedes.

“It doesn’t mean that Mercedes and ourselves won’t have collaboration in some form or another, there was collaboration before I joined, but I have to do what is best for Williams from here onwards. There’s no mini-Mercedes or B-team, or any of that notion. This is about me standing on my own two legs and making a success with an organisation around me.”

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