Lewis Hamilton excludes French Grand Prix alternative as Mercedes backs ‘pay money’ for duo | F1 | sports
Replacing Lewis Hamilton in FP1 at the French Grand Prix has been told Nick de Vries that despite finishing ninth on the course he is unlikely to claim a permanent seat at Mercedes. The Dutchman took over from the seven-time world champion due to the FIA ruling that each team gives experience to younger drivers in one session throughout the season.
Charles Leclerc overtook Max Verstappen in the first practice race, but de Vries finished ninth in Hamilton’s car while George Russell finished fourth in Paul Ricard. The 27-year-old was one of the first few drivers to walk out, but despite taking the top ten, critic Paul di Resta doesn’t think he’ll claim a permanent seat at Mercedes.
“It’s strange,” Di Resta told Sky Sports F1. “Because Nick was picked from the same program as Lewis at McLaren and a long period of time after Lewis, after Lewis came up he was next in line. But somehow it didn’t work out.
“Then he was dropped from McLaren, went on his own business for a few years, picked a little driving, won the F2 Championship, and then obviously Mercedes picked him up and revitalized him. It’s kind of the wrong time, the wrong age, just because of George Russell. His age is similar to him. He’s been a competitor his whole life, and he was put into that car.
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De Resta’s comment came a month after Tom Coronel claimed De Vries was Toto Wolff’s “insurance policy” if Hamilton retires. The Dutch rider said: “If Lewis Hamilton stops, Nick de Vries will take the seat. Do you know why? Like I said a year ago, Nick is Toto Wolff’s insurance policy.”
Friday’s practice session was De Vries’ first experience of an F1 car in a proper weekend and he admitted he was nervous getting into it. “I’m always nervous above everything I do,” de Vries said Friday. “Because I want to do everything I do well. It doesn’t come naturally and I put a certain pressure on myself. I feel healthy nerves.
“For me, it’s about the fact that I also care apart from work. This is my life, this is my sport. I want to do well in a Formula 1 weekend like this, the whole world watching. You’re going to ride in a Mercedes and you have one hour, two sets of tires and you Sitting next to a driver who can dream about a car.”