Lewis Hamilton French GP replacement ruled out as Mercedes backed to ‘pay money’ for duo

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LEWIS HAMILTON was forced to sit out FP1 at the French GP.

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Lewis Hamilton’s FP1 replacement at the French Grand Prix Nyck de Vries has been told that despite finishing ninth in the session, he is unlikely to claim a permanent seat at Mercedes. The Dutchman took over from the seven-time world champion due to an FIA ruling that sees each team give experience to younger drivers in one session throughout the season.

Charles Leclerc edged Max Verstappen in the first practice race, but De Vries finished ninth in Hamilton’s car while George Russell took fourth at Paul Ricard. The 27-year-old was one of the first few drivers out but despite finishing in the top ten, pundit Paul di Resta does not believe he will claim a permanent seat at Mercedes.

“It’s a strange one,” Di Resta told Sky Sports F1. “Because Nick was picked up from the same program as Lewis in McLaren and a good amount of time after Lewis, after Lewis had progressed he was the next one in line. But somehow it never worked.

“Then he got dropped from the McLaren thing, went about his own business for a few years, picked up a few drives, won the F2 championship, and then obviously Mercedes picked him up and he has got this re-energised. It’s kind of wrong time, wrong age, purely because of George Russell. A similar age to him, been a competitor all his life, has been placed in that car.

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Lewis Hamilton French GP replacement ruled out as Mercedes backed to 'pay money' for duo

Lewis Hamilton’s French GP replacement Nyck de Vries has not been tipped to take a permanent seat. (Image: GETTY)

“I think George has firmly got his place here, definitely could be here for a very long time. Then when Lewis decides to stop, would Mercedes take the chance or would they just go for someone that’s like a Leclerc or Verstappen and pay the money to have a top lineup.

“I guess that’s where the feeling is, but with Nyck they would want to place him the best they can because he is a close ally, but I don’t really see where he fits within the Mercedes-Benz system purely because of the age he is at, but a great person to have obviously, to go out and deliver a lap like that straight off the back of some simulator, and getting close to George [who is] highly regarded.”

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Lewis Hamilton French GP replacement ruled out as Mercedes backed to 'pay money' for duo

Paul di Resta spoke to Mercedes chief Toto Wolff after FP1. (Image: Sky Sports F1)

Di Resta’s comment’s come a month after Tom Coronel claimed de Vries was Toto Wolff’s ‘insurance policy’ if Hamilton retired. The Dutch racer said: “If Lewis Hamilton stops, Nyck de Vries will get the seat. Do you know why? As I’ve been saying for a year, Nyck is Toto Wolff’s insurance policy.”

Friday’s practice session was De Vries’ first experience of a F1 car in a proper weekend and he admitted he was nervous going into it. “I’m always nervous before everything I do,” De Vries said on Friday. “Because I want to do everything I do well. That doesn’t come naturally and I put a certain pressure on myself. I do feel healthy nerves.

“For me, it’s about the fact that apart from the work, I also care. This is my life, this is my sport. I want to do well. In a Formula 1 weekend like this, the whole world is watching. You get into a Mercedes and you have one hour, two sets of tyres and you are sitting next to a driver who can dream about the car.”


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