Stoffel Vandoorne said Mercedes’ decision to give George Russell the nod over him for the Sakhir Grand Prix “hurts”.
Lewis Hamilton returned a positive COVID-19 test on Tuesday following the Bahrain Grand Prix, which means the seven-time World Champion was ruled out of the second weekend in Bahrain, that being the Sakhir Grand Prix around the ‘Outer Circuit’.
Mercedes selected their junior driver George Russell to replace him, striking a deal with Williams who agreed to release him from his ‘loan’ deal for that round. Russell’s compatriot Jack Aitken will drive the FW43 in his place.
However, all of this has left Vandoorne feeling a little “disappointed”.
As Mercedes’ reserve driver, and also a member of their Formula E line-up, he was hoping to be selected as Hamilton’s stand-in, but lost out to Russell.
On social media, he wrote: “Thought you’d want an update after the news last few days.
“Firstly, I want to wish Lewis Hamilton a speedy recovery and hopefully he’ll be back in the car ASAP! Nobody can really replace him!
“Obviously, I’m disappointed not to get the chance to drive for Mercedes this weekend. After having spent the year travelling to all F1 races and dedicating so much time, physical training, commitment to this programme…it hurts!
“On the other hand, I respect the choice of putting George Russell in the car. He has been one of the standout drivers and he fully deserves this opportunity.
“It’s moments like this that make my drive even bigger and I can assure you I’m going to continue giving 100%.
“Thank you so much everyone for all your supportive messages! It’s been great to see. See you at the track in Bahrain!”
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Despite a very promising junior career, Vandoorne’s time in Formula 1 never lived up to the expectation.
In 2015, he steamrollered his way to the GP2 Championship, scoring 341.5 points and taking seven race wins in the process.
He made his F1 debut in 2016 with McLaren as a replacement for Fernando Alonso at the Bahrain Grand Prix, scoring a point, but once his full-time opportunity came in 2017, the Belgian racer struggled to kick on, scoring 25 points across two seasons in what was admittedly a far poorer McLaren compared to the 2020 incarnation.