De Vries replaces Hamilton for FP1 in France

Jon Wilde
Lewis Hamilton staring at his helmet in the garage. Baku June 2022

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton staring at his helmet in the garage. Baku June 2022

Lewis Hamilton will stand down from FP1 duty for Mercedes at the French Grand Prix to give Nyck de Vries a go in the W13.

A new rule this season dictates teams must reserve two FP1 sessions during the campaign for a rookie driver who has contested two or fewer grands prix.

De Vries has already been given a run in one such session, for Williams at the Spanish Grand Prix where he took over Alex Albon’s car and outpaced Nicholas Latifi.

Now the Dutchman, who is the reigning Formula E World Champion and sits eighth in his title defence behind the leader, his Mercedes-EQ team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne, will get an opportunity in Hamilton’s car at Paul Ricard.

The 27-year-old is, along with Vandoorne, a Mercedes F1 reserve driver and has represented the team at the Abu Dhabi end-of-season test for the past two years.

“Nyck is replacing Lewis in first practice this weekend as part of the allocated sessions for young drivers this year. So we are looking forward to seeing how he gets on,” confirmed Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff.

Despite no longer being a prodigy at 27, De Vries has for some time been considered one of the most likely candidates for a promotion to an F1 race seat.

He was strongly linked with Williams and Alfa Romeo for 2022 only to be overlooked in favour of Alex Albon and Zhou Guanyu respectively, but his Barcelona FP1 performance compared to Latifi will have done his prospects no harm.

The problem for De Vries, however, as he knocks upon the glass ceiling, is the emergence of the current crop of drivers in junior series and even from IndyCar trying to find a way into F1.

After his FP1 outing in Spain, he said: “It’s always very interesting to get the opportunity to see inside or behind the scenes of any organisation and particularly a Formula 1 team.

“It’s interesting to learn and see where people are putting their emphasis and how they are building to a weekend and how they are preparing.

“I think as a racing driver, you learn from all different things you do – driving different cars, being part of different teams and organisations and manufacturers. Every little piece is ultimately making you a more complete racing driver.”

Hamilton will return to the car for FP2 at a circuit which should suit the characteristics of the W13, as he and George Russell will try to give Mercedes a first or second-place finish in a race for the first time this season.